Illinois hunters, outdoorsmen hope for ally in Rauner

SPRINGFIELD (AP) — Illinois hunters and outdoors enthusiasts see Gov. Bruce Rauner as a potential new ally in Springfield as they eye legislation this session that includes measures to ban the use of drones to track wildlife, allow

Gov. Bruce Rauner (Governor's Facebook page)
Gov. Bruce Rauner
(Governor’s Facebook page)

silencers at gun ranges, expand coyote hunting to crossbows and resurrect a bobcat hunting season.

They’re hoping Rauner, a hunter and fisherman who frequently touts his love of the outdoors, will bring a friendly perspective to natural resource issues and dozens of proposed new laws related to guns and hunting.

At the same time, the sportsmen fear the state’s budget crisis will cast a cloud over the management of state parks and agencies that regulate their activities.

They are banking on promises they say Rauner made to address problems at the Department of Natural Resources, encouraged by his appointment of former state Rep. Wayne Rosenthal, a fellow hunter and sportsman from Morrisonville, as the new DNR chief.

Under Rauner’s proposed budget for the coming year, the DNR’s operations budget would be reduced by $8 million, with most of the savings coming from managing staffing levels.

The budget for conservation police would be reduced by $3 million. Grants that help pay for forest stewardship, would drop by $2.1 million.