Deer culling to continue in Dundee Township

A resident-led attempt to end deer culling in a portion of Dundee Township failed by five votes Tuesday night.

That means shooting deer and testing them for chronic wasting disease will continue to be a way of life in the township — that is, unless Billita Jacobsen, the Carpentersville woman who started the movement to save the deer, is successful in the future.

“It was so close that I'll come back next year,” Jacobsen said after the meeting. “I was actually encouraged, there were so many people there, I thought we'd won it.”

More than 100 people attended Dundee Township's annual meeting Tuesday night, held at the Randall Oaks Golf and Banquet.

In December, The township board approved letting the Illinois Department of Natural Resources kill and test 30 deer in Salamander Springs, just off Binnie Road, where 600 deer live. Five of them tested positive for the disease, a figure experts have said is high.

But a quirk in the law gave residents an opportunity to end future deer culling in Salamander Springs at the annual meeting during a special vote.

At the meeting, 97 signed up to vote, but only 93 actually voted, with 49 siding with the township board and 44 agreeing with Jacobsen. If a majority of registered voters had sided with Jacobsen, that would have ended the program and forced the state to approach voters with their future culling plans at the annual meeting, instead of the township board.

IDNR is running a five-year program to determine where chronic wasting disease originated from and how it migrated here. The program involves shooting the deer, then testing their brain and lymph nodes for the disease. Officials also hope the shootings keep the disease from spreading.

“Our motive here is the health of the herd, we don't want it to be like Wyoming with a 48 prevalence rate (of the disease),” said Ray Eisbrenner, a district wildlife biologist with IDNR. Illinois' prevalence rate is 2 percent, he said.

Before the vote, Dr. Nohra Mateus-Pinilla, a state wildlife veterinary epidemiologist, explained the disease, the science behind it and how it affects the deer.

Chronic wasting disease is a neurological ailment that's 100 percent fatal to the deer that catch it. The disease forms lesions in the brains of affected animals. Symptoms include a lowered head, excessive saliva and an emaciated body. There are no known human cases.

The only way to test for the disease is to kill the animal, she said.

“We don't have any alternatives right now,” Mateus said.

After Mateus' presentation, Jacobsen argued that the program is cruel to the deer and a waste of funding in a state that already has money woes. She dubbed the program a “haphazard approach to saving deer” and said that killing the deer does more harm than the disease itself.

“Do we want to teach our children that there are reasonable humane alternatives to problems or that the answer is a bullet and slaughter?” she said.

  Dr. Nohra E. Mateus-Pinilla, Ph.D., a veterinarian from the University of Illinois, and citizen Billita Jacobson, right, listen to questions from the crowd Tuesday night at the Dundee Township annual meeting. They represent each side of the deer culling debate. Citizens voted to continue deer culling in Dundee Township Open Spaces. John Starks/
  Attorney Derk Price counts the “no” votes, cast on wooden sticks and ribbon, as citizen Billita Jacobson, left, leans in and Trustee Chuck Behm and Clerk Liz Gade watch the count concerning deer culling Tuesday night at the Dundee Township annual meeting. Jacobson led the charge to stop the culling in Dundee Township Open Spaces. It did not pass and culling will continue. John Starks/
  Trustee Chuck Behm and Clerk Liz Gade count the Yes voters Tuesday night at the Dundee Township annual meeting. Deer culling will continue in Dundee Township Open Spaces. John Starks/
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