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Permits to use wild duck feathers found in my yard

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From: Colette Burris
Pontoon Beach, IL
Hello:) I was recently made aware that it is illegal for me to pick up the naturally molted feathers from the large group of wild Mallard ducks, regular Geese, and Canadian Geese (and one beautiful little Snow Goose that hangs out with the regular geese:), that live at the lake my home sits next to. I'm of Native American descent, I've been taught to be completely respectful of nature and always do anything you can to help educate the public about it whenever possible. I help keep an eye on these birds and keep other people around here from mistreating/abusing them or scaring them in any way. Until I moved here the other people around the lake had very little tolerance for these animals. But since I've taken up their cause, educating anyone and everyone that I speak to about them, things have started to change. People now slow down or completely stop and wait for them to cross the road. The local kids have stopped harassing and chasing them completely. I now have total strangers coming to me asking me for info about these animals and how best to live with them. I've also rehabilitated a week old female mallard that was abandoned inside of my empty swimming pool. I didn't handle her physically unless it was an emergency, but I did let her follow me around freely like her mother would have, teaching her how to catch fish in water, how to forage for bugs, water plants, etc., everything mom would have taught her to sustain herself. I did this for many months until she was old enough to fly off back to the flock this past spring. She was not 'hand-friendly', nor was she trusting of other humans, I wanted to make sure that she didn't imprint on me to the point of allowing another human to get close to her and thankfully I was successful. Please keep in mind that I did this all before I had any knowledge of the legal situation I had unwittingly put myself in. In conclusion, now I pick up these feathers and make jewelry for myself, family & friends. I look at it as the blessing I've received from Mother Nature for helping to take care of the baby and return it to the flock. Then just recently I find out that its illegal for me to pick up these feathers. I'm simply trying to find out where and who I need to talk to for the permit that I was told I need in order to continue to do this. I don't need any problems legally and I certainly would love to continue to help protect these birds by educating the public about them. Not to mention, I'm rather attached to some of my jewelry pieces that the birds blessed me with by giving me such beautiful natural feathers for. I've been taught that when we freely give of ourselves to Mother Nature, she gives back to us many blessings. My blessings are the wonderful relationship I have with this LARGE group of wild birds and the gorgeous feathers they leave me every day in my yard. I want to honor them/that, but I want to stay within the boundaries of the law as well. Thank You in advance for any and all help, it is very truly appreciated!:)

Extension Message
From: Laura Kammin
Visiting Extension Specialist, Pollution Prevention
Extension-Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant College Program
Hi, I cannot answer your question, so I have sent it on to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. I'll let you know as soon as they provide a response.

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