Legislation targets conservation police

Mar 3, 2014

Credit dnr.state.il.us
A group of lawmakers is challenging the broad powers enjoyed by Illinois' conservation police officers. At issue is whether the officers can operate on private land without a warrant. IPR'S Brian Mackey has more.

Illinois law lets conservation police enter "all lands and waters” to enforce the Wildlife Code. The idea is, even if you have a huge private forest, you’re not allowed to, say, shoot a deer out of season.

State Rep. Dennis Reboletti, a Republican from Elmhurst, says just about every other type of police officer operates under stricter limits.

“If a state trooper wanted to go into your backyard to investigate what he thought something might be happening, he wouldn’t be able to do that unless he had probable cause, a warrant, or your permission."

Reboletti is co-sponsoring legislation that would limit conservation police to public land. This is important because a significant amount of hunting in Illinois happens on private land, not in public parks. Reboletti says he hopes the legislation prompts a discussion with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

A spokesman for DNR says the agency is reviewing the legislation, and declined further comment.