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updated: 2/23/2011 6:03 PM

IDNR could start deer culling near Carpentersville

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The Illinois Department of Natural Resources this week sent letters to dozens of Carpentersville homeowners, advising them of deer culling that is expected soon at Salamander Springs, a wildlife area adjacent to the Binnie Forest Preserve, west of Randall Road.

In addition, a Sleepy Hollow committee will meet next week to discuss what the shootings mean for its own herd.

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The state agency has not yet set a date to start the project that involves shooting 20 out of 49 deer at Salamander Springs, then testing them for chronic wasting disease, a fatal ailment that forms lesions in the brains of affected deer.

According to the IDNR, it notifies homeowners a week before it starts the process. The shootings take place once or twice a week, sometime Monday through Thursday, in the evening hours.

IDNR spent this week baiting the targeted area with food to get the deer used to coming around the area, said Marty Jones, the agency's urban deer project manager. The shootings are expected to end March 31 and the IDNR is targeting older deer, which are more likely to carry the disease.

IDNR is trying to determine where the disease originated and how it migrated here, and plans on killing 75 deer within a 25-square-mile radius of the forest preserve -- 482 deer live there currently and scientists discovered the disease among two deer near the forest preserve.

The Kane County Forest Preserve District is expected to vote Friday on whether to let IDNR cull 30 deer on its properties and the agency is working with Rutland Township residents for the others. The Dundee Township Board voted last Thursday to let IDNR kill 20 deer at Salamander Springs.

Township Supervisor Sue Harney said it was not an easy vote for her to take.

"It's awful to think of 40 percent of our deer staggering around on their legs," Harney said, referencing a IDNR study that showed how chronic wasting disease spread in states that did nothing to prevent it. "I think we could get to a point where we have no deer left and that's worse than what we're doing."

As part of the program, a single sharpshooter aims for the deer's shoulder. A bullet through the shoulder shuts down the animal's central nervous system, killing it in about a minute.

According to Regional Wildlife Biologist Dan Ludwig, the sharpshooter will operate from a tripod six to 12 feet above the ground and wait for the deer to approach the target area. In the eight years since IDNR started the program, there have been zero accidents, Ludwig said.

"Target areas are chosen so shots are not taken toward buildings," Ludwig said in an e-mail interview. "The shooters are placed in safe shooting locations where they can easily identify any animal on the bait site."

Sleepy Hollow officials will meet with IDNR to get a better understanding of the disease and its impact on the healthy deer that call the village home. Salamander Springs is two miles from Sleepy Hollow.

"We take the health of our environment and that includes all members, including the deer, pretty seriously," Village Trustee Scott Finney said.

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