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updated: 2/28/2013 10:54 AM

Campton Township deer disease testing upsets some

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Campton Township recently gave permission to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to kill up to five deer near Corron Farm and test them for chronic wasting disease.

Officials say the study is part of a larger sampling of deer in a 25-mile area in the West suburbs.

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"This is more of a research program and surveillance program," said John Kupar, Campton Township supervisor. "It's nothing sinister, It's not a culling program."

The testing -- in which deer are killed by sharpshooters -- has not gone over well with some residents.

Township resident John Hubbard complained that township officials didn't ask him for permission to have IDNR sharpshooters on public lands. He said the taxpayers own the land at Corron Farm because it was purchased with funding from an open space referendum.

"I don't think they should test (the deer) at all. There's nothing they can do about it other than slaughter all the deer in the state. Sick deer are going to get eaten (by coyotes)," Hubbard said.

Kupar said township officials were approached by IDNR representatives a few months ago after a dead deer about one mile north of Corron Farm tested positive for CWD.

The deer disease, for which there is no cure, is fatal and officials believe it can be spread between deer in large groups.

"If you have a rampant outbreak of it, you'll have deer dying in people's driveways. One minute they're fine and the next they keel over dead," Kupar said. "(IDNR) doesn't even expect to get five deer because there's not a lot of deer at Corron Farm. We approved it so samples can be taken and to help (the Department of Natural Resources). This has nothing to do with culling." Jim Herkert, director of the Office of Resource Conservation at IDNR, explained that the disease was first found in deer in Illinois in 2008. The department decided to do the testing, which could run from now through March, after a sick deer in Campton Township tested positive in late summer or early fall 2012.

Herkert said Campton Township is one of more than a dozen sites where IDNR will test deer. If the deer test negative, IDNR will keep tabs on the area. If deer test positive, a culling program could be started to reduce the chance that the disease will spread, Herkert said.

"If you let the disease run its course, more and more deer will be affected," he said. "We think it's in the best interest of the state to keep the prevalence of the disease as low as possible. The best way to control the disease is to reduce (deer) densities in those areas."

Herkert said no deer had been killed in the Campton Township area as of Feb. 22, the most recent day for which data was available.

Kane County Forest Preserve District officials will review a report on the local deer population, including the presence of CWD, during an 8 a.m. meeting today.

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