The discovery of 11 dead Canada Geese alongside a suburban road may have been a bit gruesome, but may not be as illegal as initially thought.
The carcasses were discovered in the Naperville area -- seven near the intersection of North Aurora Road and Enterprise Avenue and four in the block of Langley Circle -- with their chest cavities cleaned out.
"[It was] really weird. And not something I wanted to see in front of my house," said homeowner John Ostberg, who had four of the dead geese on his front lawn.
As macabre as that sounds, the killings are permissible by state and federal law at this time, according to officials at the State Department of Natural Resources.
"Geese are in season," said Mike Delis, conservation police officer for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, according to the Chicago Tribune. He said the hunter responsible for the 11 geese carcasses discovered in the west suburban community in the past 48 hours may be guilty of less severe crime -- littering.
But if all of the geese are the victim of the same serial hunter, the number would be in violation of federal limits.
The Naperville area is included in an area the DNR calls "Zone 1," and properly trained and licensed hunters are allowed to bag up to two Canada geese per day through Jan. 9, but are only allowed to have four hunted geese at a time.
"Our message to the public is to remind them that they are federally and state protected birds and it is against the law to do what happened to these birds," said Naperville police Sgt. Gregg Bell.
Among the first species to be protected under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, Canada Geese were considered "recovered" by 2001 and removed from the federal list. Their numbers in the United States have increased from about 1 million in 1990 to 3.9 million in 2008.
The unlawful discarding of an animal carcass is a misdemeanor with fines up to $1,500, Delis said.