People will be allowed to hunt deer, with bows and arrows, in two Kane County forest preserves this fall.
The forest preserve commission's executive committee approved the plan Friday.
The hunting is meant to reduce a white-tailed deer population district staff says is excessive at Brunner Family and Freeman Kame-Meagher Farm forest preserves in Dundee and Rutland townships.
The two preserves are among a list of about a dozen where the district thinks the deer population could become too high. An overabundance of deer damages the preserves, as they overgraze on plants and trees, including wildflowers the district is trying to restore. The damage to the vegetation results in a loss of habitat for other wildlife, and enables maples and nonnative trees to thrive where there should be oaks and hickories, according to district wildlife biologist Bill Graser.
Deer hunting season is Nov. 1 to Jan. 20, 2013. There will be a lottery for the $100 hunting permits. Applicants have to provide proof of hunter safety training and proficiency, and show where they would put their aerial deer stand. They would be assigned to one of 12 specific zones, and sign in and out with a preserve worker. They would be allowed to keep their kill, which must be tested for chronic wasting disease. Hunters must live in Kane County, and two can share a permit.
The district determined what preserves to allow hunting by the number of deer per square mile, the damage done to the vegetation, and the quality of the preserve.
An aerial count in 2010-11 showed there were about 25 deer per square mile in Freeman Kame and nearly 50 in Brunner. The goal is to have no more than 20 deer per square mile. The district's deer report states that aerial counts typically underestimate the number of deer. The 2010-11 count is the latest available, due to lack of snow cover last winter.
Kane County Forest Preserve District President John Hoscheit said Friday he hopes the district's hunting plan will keep the Illinois Department of Natural Resources out of the preserves. Last year, the IDNR, with the district's permission, killed deer in preserves in northern Kane County to help determine if chronic wasting disease had spread here. Residents of Rutland Township have complained the IDNR killed too many deer.
The district's deer management plan is available at kaneforest.com/newsreleases/DeerMgtPPT_Web.pdf.