On Park District Conservation Day at the Illinois State Fair, Gov. Bruce Rauner signed legislation legalizing blaze pink hunting gear and increasing penalties for wildlife poaching.
House Bill 4231 permits hunters to wear blaze pink clothing in addition to blaze orange. Both colors of clothing are equally visible to the human eye, however, deer are believed to be color blind to red and can see very little orange or pink.
"We want to make sure that Illinoisans are able to hunt and enjoy the outdoors safely," Rauner said. "The new legislation provides more variety in hunting gear while preventing tragic hunting accidents in Illinois."
Blaze orange clothing has been credited for a reduction in hunting-related injuries and deaths.
"Blaze pink can be easier to see, making it a safer option when hunters are in fields or woods," said Sen. Neil Anderson, R-Andalusia, who sponsored the legislation in the Senate. "At the same time, many believe deer can't see the pink color. Giving hunters this option will only enhance their hunting experience and improve safety."
Wisconsin, Colorado, Louisiana, Minnesota, New York and Virginia have also authorized fluorescent pink as an alternative color to orange.
Local retailers and sporting good suppliers Rural King and Walmart are already stocking some blaze pink outerwear.
"Blaze pink laws have already passed in several other states, so this change in the law sends the message that our hunting laws put safety first," said Rep. Dave Severin, R-Benton, lead House sponsor of the bill. "This action gives the consumer a choice, and though I'm no fashion expert, I believe blaze pink will look good on sportsmen and women in Southern Illinois."
"As a lifelong hunter and supporter of the Second Amendment, I was proud to help sponsor this important safety measure," said Rep. Terri Bryant, R-Murphysboro, House co-sponsor of the bill. "Though I am quite partial to the color pink, the scientific research I have seen shows that people see the color pink better than the color orange. I am grateful that the governor recognizes the importance of hunting safety and that hunting is an important part of the culture and a tourism driver for Southern Illinois."
The initiative is supported by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Illinois Legislative Sportsmen's Caucus. The new law takes effect Jan. 1, 2019.
House Bill 5317 requires people who illegally capture or kill white-tailed antlered deer to pay restitution to DNR.
"White-tailed deer are the state mammal of Illinois and a crucial part of our ecology. We must manage the deer population responsibly so future generations of Illinoisans can enjoy Illinois' wildlife," Rauner said. "Poaching is a serious crime and should be punished accordingly. Illegal hunting hurts legitimate sportsmen, deprives the state and local businesses of revenue generated from hunting, and harms Illinois' wildlife population."
Supported by the DNR, the bill also raises the replacement value of a variety of wildlife species. These values are used to determine the legal and financial penalties for commercial hunting in violation of the Illinois Wildlife Code.
"Hopefully, the increase in penalties will discourage and minimize the need to kill animals for profit while increasing the value of our wildlife," said Sen. Napoleon Harris, D-Harvey, who sponsored the legislation. "This legislation should also bring greater awareness to our responsibility to protect our wildlife to ensure we have a healthy population."