The first full deer hunting season in Kane County's forest preserves was so successful commissioners might expand the program into even more woodlands this fall.
Forest preserve commissioners viewed a report of the past season's deer hunting activities for the first time Thursday. The forest preserve district first presented the idea of allowing archery-based deer hunting in the preserves in 2012.
The idea formed, in part, as a response to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources implementing a sharpshooting program in some of the preserves to track new instances of chronic wasting disease in the deer herd. The 2013-14 season, which ended in January, was the first full deer hunting program run by the forest preserve district.
Thirty-eight hunters harvested 25 deer, including 16 from the Brunner preserve. The remaining nine were taken from the Freeman Kame preserve. Two bucks from Brunner tested positive for chronic wasting disease.
"I think that vindicates our concerns and all the time and effort we put into this program," commissioner Drew Frasz said. "It's a good thing that we're catching it. This is essentially a recreational activity aimed at thinning the herd that has also given us good results in monitoring that disease."
Commissioner Phil Lewis said he'd like to see the success of the hunting program continue by adding deer hunting in other preserves. Drew Ulberg, the district's director of natural resources, said hunting should occur only in preserves where the deer herd is so large it is decimating the plant population. For now, both Brunner and Freeman Kame could benefit from expanded hunting, he said. "We hope the hunters will be productive in the coming years and actually increase the number of deer harvested because we actually have quite a few deer living in the preserves."
Ulberg said he will update commissioners later this year with information on deer activity in the preserves and any recommended expansion of hunting.