Group promotes outdoor ethics



A fisherman cuts his knotty line and leaves the mess on shore. A cocky water skier zips past leisurely boaters. An empty wine bottle rests under a tree in a park.

Hey, what happened to ethics?

The state Conservation Department has asked a group of outdoor enthusiasts to recommend ways to improve behavior at recreation spots across Illinois.

‘‘We have hunter safety courses and boating safety courses, but there is a wider range of issues out there,’‘ said John Tranquilli, the department’s director of natural resource management.

‘‘We’re in a highly populated state. … We need to appreciate what the other person is doing,’‘ he said. ‘‘It’s voluntary, good-nature-type stuff that we need to promote.’‘

Department Director Brent Manning has asked a 15-member board to recommend an ethics education program within two years. The board, which recently held its first meeting, includes people from the Illinois State Rifle Association, the Illinois Environmental Council, the Izaak Walton League and B.A.S.S.

The final product might be a film, a brochure or an ‘‘outdoorsman’s pledge,’‘ Tranquilli said.

Youngsters could be the main targets of the message.

Roman Strzala of the Illinois Association of Park Districts said he’d like to consider TV ads similar to the powerful one years ago that featured an Indian weeping about pollution.

Strzala, president of the Addison Park District, said he’s frustrated by graffiti, litter and vandalism found at his parks. People are told not to feed the wildlife at a local nature center, but they ignore the rules.

‘‘There are some people out there who have complete disregard for park properties,’‘ he said. ‘‘We have to get to them. … Will it be an ongoing problem even with this ethics program? Possibly. But we can negate some of it.’‘

Art Dannenberg of Oak Brook Terrace, representing the Illinois Bowhunters Association, said unruly hunters can improve their image with the non-hunting public if they get a good taste of ethics.

‘‘We can’t overlook the fact that the Legislature passes laws based on public input,’‘ he said. ‘‘If we present a good public image, we’ll keep those hunting and fishing opportunities.’‘