State officials say a new Illinois law requiring hunters to use all edible parts of harvested animals could help fight poaching and provide meals to hungry families.
The legislation signed earlier this week by Gov. Pat Quinn makes it a misdemeanor to toss usable meat, including unspoiled breast meat of birds. It also prohibits dumping carcasses of animals killed by hunters on public property or on private property without the owner's permission.
It's still legal to discard any meat deemed infected or not safe for human consumption, as long as it's disposed of properly.
The Quincy Herald-Whig reports (http://bit.ly/14fFZnN ) 18 percent of the calls last year to a state hotline for reporting poachers were for dumped carcasses.
"It does not follow our idea of fair chase and ethics," said Marc Miller, director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. "We would like to put (the bill) in place so we can get at those folks who are doing that. It gives us another tool to fight poaching."
The bill's sponsor, Sen. David Koehler, said the legislation encourages hunters to give unwanted meat to friends and family or to charity. The Peoria Democrat said the IDNR's Illinois Sportsmen Against Hunger Program allows hunters to donate venison and other meat to food banks throughout Illinois. The program has provided about 3.5 million meals to needy families, he said.
"Most responsible hunters already make sure that the animals they kill don't go to waste - we just want to encourage everyone to do the same," Koehler said in a statement. The new law takes effect Jan. 1.