Illinois Native Gar in the Legislature

Final update, June 2016

The resolution passed the House and Senate unanimously and the DNR has resumed (or will soon resume) the stocking of Alligator Gar in Illinois. Fingers crossed that there will be research into whether limits on gar killing are appropriate in some locations.

Update, April 19

The Ag & Conservation Committee has adopted the resolution with a 13-0 vote. Thank you to everyone who registered support for this legislation. All our names were read into the record as proponents, there was a quick inside joke from one representative to another about hunting gar from a pirogue, and then it was done. The whole thing took less than 5 minutes.

Now the resolution will be “reported to the floor” of the House. This does not mean that the resolution will automatically be brought to a vote, however. We now have to concentrate our efforts on convincing those in charge of what gets a vote that this resolution is worthy of consideration by the full House. I will post more information as I have it.

This is a great day for native fishes in general, and our four gars in particular. HJR0141, the first resolution of its kind in this state, has passed out of committee on a unanimous, bipartisan vote. We will continue to work to get the Senate to consider the resolution as well, and to get the House to pass it. Stay tuned…

“Testify” in Support of Illinois Gar

A resolution in the Illinois legislature that urges the Illinois DNR to protect our four native gar species as and where necessary, and to continue and expedite the ongoing reintroduction of alligator gar to the state, will have its first hearing tomorrow morning (Tues., April 19, 2016) in the House Agriculture and Conservation Committee. If it passes there, it will go to the full House for a vote. If it dies there…

To virtually “testify” in support of the resolution, please visit:
http://my.ilga.gov/WitnessSlip/Create/97137?committeeHearingId=13671&LegislationId=97137&HCommittees4%2F25%2F2016-page=1&committeeid=0&chamber=H&nodays=7&_=1461018731945

Type in your info, choose “proponent,” and select “record of appearance only”.

That’s it. No testimony required. (But if you know who your Representative is, please feel free to email them about your support for this resolution.)

This has to be done before the hearing, so please take a few moments and do it tonight.

Synopsis of the Resolution

HJR0141
Urges the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to develop protections as needed for all Illinois native gar species to ensure the long term viability of the shortnose gar, the longnose gar, the spotted gar, and the alligator gar, with particular protections developed for alligator gar. Urges the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to apply these protections as needed and include site specific size and creel limits based on the size of the reproductively mature gar to protect brood stock from premature harvest. Urges the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to work with partners to identify ways to expand and expedite the reintroduction of alligator gar to waterways to expedite the creation of a sustainable and regulated trophy fishing resource in the State.
(From http://ilga.gov/legislation/BillStatus.asp?DocNum=141&GAID=13&DocTypeID=HJR&LegId=97137&SessionID=88&GA=99)

The resolution is supported by Illinois DNR, The Sierra Club and other environmental groups, numerous scientists and anglers, and the Bowfishing Alliance.

Full Text

SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION (The text of the Senate and House versions of the resolution are identical.)

WHEREAS, Since prehistoric times, Illinois waterways have been home to four species of gar that swam alongside dinosaurs, mastodons, and pioneers; and

WHEREAS, Alligator gar reaching more than six feet in length and 300 pounds in weight once patrolled Illinois waterways; and

WHEREAS, For a century, gar have been misnamed as nuisances, threats to sportfish, “trash fish”, or worse; and

WHEREAS, The largest of these species, the alligator gar, was once extirpated from our State, but has been reintroduced on a limited basis through the hard work, expertise, and commitment of our Department of Natural Resources; and

WHEREAS, Our great institutions of higher education, consisting of the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana and Springfield campuses, Western Illinois University, and Eastern Illinois University, are engaged in research showing the intrinsic value of gar species to Illinois waterways, sport fisheries, and recreational opportunities; and

WHEREAS, Anglers, whether they use hook-and-line or and arrows to pursue their quarry, are discovering the thrill of gar fishing; and

WHEREAS, Food lovers across the State are beginning to discover the culinary delight that is the flesh of gar; and

WHEREAS, The increasing popularity of gar presents new opportunities for gar management to ensure the long-term viability of the fishery; and

WHEREAS, Fully grown alligator gar is our only native species capable of eating adult Asian carp; and

WHEREAS, Many Illinoisans and tourists look forward to the day when giant alligator gar will again swim our waterways, presenting a unique trophy fishing opportunity; and

WHEREAS, Gar have for too long been falsely accused of hurting game species, when studies clearly show healthy gar populations lead to healthier game species populations; and

WHEREAS, The Illinois Department of Natural Resources has taken a two-year hiatus from their efforts to restore the alligator gar population; therefore, be it

RESOLVED, BY THE SENATE OF THE NINETY-NINTH GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES CONCURRING HEREIN, that we urge the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to develop protections as needed for all Illinois native gar species to ensure the long term viability of the shortnose gar (Lepisosteus platostomus), the longnose gar (Lepisosteus osseus), the spotted gar (Lepisosteus occulatus), and the alligator gar (Atractosteus spatula), with particular protections developed for alligator gar; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we urge the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to apply these protections as needed and include site specific size and creel limits based on the size of the reproductively mature gar to protect brood stock from premature harvest; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we urge the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to work with partners to identify ways to expand and expedite the reintroduction of alligator gar to waterways to expedite the creation of a sustainable and regulated trophy fishing resource in the State; and be it further

RESOLVED, That a suitable copy of this resolution be delivered to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

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3 Comments

  1. Scott G Davis, Park Forest, IL

    I’m for it.

  2. Save the gar!

  3. Save the gar

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