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New Illinois law expands types of shotgun shells hunters can use on turkeys

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(The Center Square) – Beginning next year, a bill signed by Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker permits .410 shot shells to be added to the acceptable sizes of turkey shot already allowed by the state.

Josh Witkowski with the Illinois Federation for Outdoor Resources said hunting groups were proponents of Senate Bill 2767 because it expands hunting to those who want lower recoil.

“This expands the opportunities for youth hunting, maybe those who are elderly or disabled or for those who simply want less recoil when out hunting turkey and it actually makes hunting more accessible,” said Witkowski.

The measure says the Illinois Department of Natural Resources can, through administrative rule, restrict shot size, material and density. Witkowski explained how the recent Supreme Court ruling that overturns the Chevron doctrine, limiting federal agency reach, doesn’t apply to this bill.

“One, this is a state agency versus a federal agency, and two this is something that was passed via the legislators, and we’re looking forward to it taking effect,” said Witkowski. “Agencies propose legislation all the time. They find problems with their rules and get constituent requests. Fortunately, most of the agencies work with stakeholders to make sure the proposed legislation is good. IDNR did reach out and everybody was on board with it.”

In a 6-3 vote, the high court overruled a 1984 decision in Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council that gave way to the doctrine, which required federal courts to give deference to federal agencies’ reasonable interpretation of ambiguous statutes.

Witkowski explained IDNR already has the ability to restrict shot size, but this bill specifies that they can determine the size of shot used inside of a .410 cartridge.

“They proposed the legislative language to several different outdoors groups as well as legislators and everybody was in favor of this,” said Witkowski.

Shot refers to the size of the BB or pellet inside the shell cartridge.

“The idea here is to prevent somebody from using extraordinarily small shot which would not kill a turkey, but would instead wound them in a non-humane manner,” said Witkowski.

State Rep. Patrick Windhorst, R-Metropolis, questioned the bill’s sponsor, state Rep. Harry Benton, D-Plainfield, on the House floor.

“This also provides the department to make administrative rules regarding shot size, material and density, correct?” asked Windhorst.

“Correct. Some of the issues are that technology is always changing and they need to be able to adapt in the field. We don’t have to go back and change the statute so we can make sure hunters can get out there and enjoy hunting,” said Benton.

No lawmaker voted against the bill. The law takes effect Jan. 1 2025.

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