Deer disease grows with deer population

Posted5/7/2012 5:00 AM

Some critical information was missing from "Conversation on deer culling" (Fence Post, April 25). The Illinois Department of Natural Resources' chronic wasting disease (CWD) program is a disease management program. The goal is to control the disease in the wild deer population and to prevent the disease from spreading throughout Illinois.

During the past 10 years, IDNR's program has demonstrated that CWD can be held at very low levels when deer populations are reduced sufficiently to impact the disease. No other state has achieved Illinois' level of success. The CWD program is not funded by Illinois general revenue funds (taxpayers).


All deer that contract CWD die when the prion destroys the deer's central nervous system. Currently, reducing deer numbers is the only way available to wildlife biologists to control the spread of the disease. A vaccine is not available at this time, although research is ongoing. In human and animal populations, a disease like CWD spreads easily when individuals are concentrated in an area. Unfortunately, when large numbers of deer are present it cannot be adequately controlled.

Deer numbers are high in winter habitats in many parts of Kane County. Kane County will serve as a source of CWD for years to come if landowners do not support actions, including sharpshooting, that affect CWD at this early stage of the disease.

IDNR's statutory responsibility is to maintain healthy wildlife populations for all of the people of Illinois and future generations. Without access to areas of high risk of CWD, IDNR cannot suppress the prevalence of CWD disease in wild deer. The agency is using adaptive management, informed by ongoing research and monitoring, to control CWD. To learn about the CWD program conducted in northern Illinois since 2002, visit

Daniel R. Ludwig


Regional wildlife biologist

Illinois Department of Natural Resources

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