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Audit finds Illinois hunting permits went to politcally-connected

By Sean Crawford, IL Public Radio

Springfield, Ill. – A state audit found Illinois' Department of Natural Resources bypassed a public process, and issued hunting permits to hundreds of politically connected individuals.

There are often more hunters who want to bag a deer than what the State feels is a proper amount. Too many hunters can be harmful to the animal's population.

To be fair, Illinois has for years held a lottery to decide who gets a permit.

While most hunters wait their turn to see if they get selected, the audit found the agency used an administrative manuever to help others circumvent the process.

Hunters with political connections - including conservation foundation donors and professional athletes - are among those who were given permits without having to participate in the lottery.

The names of the chosen have not yet been made available. But auditors found over 1,200 instances where administrative permits were given in the past two years to hunt deer and turkeys. In some cases, no fees were charged. One individual got over 20 permits in that fashion.

The findings show there were administrative permits given prior to the lottery, meaning fewer permits available for other hunters. In addition, others took place after the lottery was held, resulting in permits in excess of targeted quotas.

DNR spokesman Chris McCloud says the agency believes it is well within its right to issue permits in that manner.