January 13, 2003
The Pekin Daily Times (Pekin, Illinois)
By Linda Hughes

Havana – SHARK (Showing Animals Respect & Kindness) would like to see the Illinois Department of Agriculture cite a Fulton County man, Kevin Williams, for allowing slaughtering of tame elk on his property.

The slaughtering took place on Nature Conservancy property, across the river from Havana, that was leased back to wilder Farms until 2009, said Doug Blodgett of the Nature Conservancy in Havana. The property will become part of Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge after 2009.

On Jan. 3, SHARK announced a nationwide campaign to expose what it says is the Nature Conservancy's policy of allowing canned hunting on its properties.

A canned hunt is one in which the animals have little if any opportunity to escape, SHARK's news release said.

SHARK was called in by Wilder Farms neighbor Taminy Droll to investigate hunting of tame elk owned by the Wilder Corp.

Williams said the criticism came from a disgruntled employee. "The people who wanted to raise a stink were unemployed the minute the herd was sold. They do not even know what they are talking about," he said. "We do not have a nature preserve."

Taminy's husband, Chad, was employed by Wilder Farms for about four years. Taminy voluntarily helped take care of the elk.

Blodgett said the lease agreement allows Wilder to maintain its commercial elk operation. "They have that legal right," he said. "They have to comply will state, federal and local laws." Blodgett said he was aware that the hunting was taking place.

The Nature Conservancy does not own the elk, Blodgett said. "We make a bigger target," he offered as the reason for SHARK's attack on it.

"It's (Nature Conservancy) property," SHARK president Steve Hindi said. "They know (the hunting) is going on and are allowing it. It's the opposite of what the Nature Conservancy stands for. That's not the way you lead or send a message. The message they are sending right now it terrible.

"They have the money and the influence," he added. "There is lots they can do."

Agriculture department spokesman Jeff Squibb said it is legal for people to slaughter elk for their own consumption.

Squibb said that because Williams was selling the animals and then people were slaughtering them for their own consumption, the humane slaughtering law does not apply. "The owner of the elk said they were not being hunted. I haven't seen evidence to the contrary." He said that canned hunts are an Illinois Department of Natural Resources issue.

Following complaints, Department of Agriculture personnel inspected the site and found the animals had access to food and water. "They were in good condition, being well cared for," Squibb said. "We're still looking into it."

Hindi said the killing has been going on for about a month. "Prior to that, things were reasonably good."

In December, people with guns and in some cases bows and arrows arrived and began shooting the animals in what animal protectors call a "canned hunt," according to SHARK.

She saw people shooting elk in their pens, Droll said. She said the hunting was being done flagrantly along the road until Wilder Farms employees noticed her interest. "Now they are trying to be more secretive."

Hindi took photos of hunters in camouflage in front of the pens. Some hunters carried bows, he said.

"This is an outrage," Hindi said of the hunting. "If the elk had to be moved, or even killed, there are better ways that having yahoos come in with no skill. Elk are not wildlife."

The agriculture department is not excited about going after Williams, Hindi said. "We are going to lean on them hard."

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