State officials want to shoot up to 130 deer in Kane County forest preserves

  • State officials will shoot up to 130 deer in north central Kane County forest preserves next year. Sharpshooters would enter Bowes Creek Woods and the Meissner-Corron forest preserves for the first time in this new round of culling.

    State officials will shoot up to 130 deer in north central Kane County forest preserves next year. Sharpshooters would enter Bowes Creek Woods and the Meissner-Corron forest preserves for the first time in this new round of culling. Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

  • State officials will shoot up to 130 deer in north central Kane County forest preserves next year. Sharpshooters would enter Bowes Creek Woods and the Meissner-Corron forest preserves for the first time in this new round of culling.

    State officials will shoot up to 130 deer in north central Kane County forest preserves next year. Sharpshooters would enter Bowes Creek Woods and the Meissner-Corron forest preserves for the first time in this new round of culling. Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 10/31/2014 12:31 PM

State officials would shoot more deer in Kane County's forest preserves in 2015 than ever before under a proposal that gained tentative approval Thursday morning from forest preserve commissioners. Bowes Creek Woods and Meissner-Corron forest preserves would also see deer culling for the first time in the state's latest efforts to control the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease.

The disease is not a known health risk to humans, but it is 100 percent fatal to deer. Representatives from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources told commissioners Thursday the culling program is necessary to monitor the disease and keep it limited to the less than 1 percent of the state's deer population that's become victims.

 

"Our program is very safe, and we've been very successful," said Roy Domazlicky, a state biologist. "We are the only successful state program that's been able to maintain this low a prevalence rate for this length of time."

Domazlicky pointed to Wyoming, saying it does not cull deer to manage Chronic Wasting Disease. The latest report from Wyoming's Game and Fish Department shows a prevalence rate of about 14 percent.

The state's request to shoot and test 130 deer is less than the 150 requested last year. Commissioners approved the culling of 115 deer.

Despite the authority to cull more, the actual number of deer culled last year was 65. That's partially attributable to the harsh winter, but numbers show state officials have never taken more than 80 deer from Kane County preserves despite asking for permission to take far more the past three years. Domazlicky said his agency targets culling about 14 percent of the county's deer population every year.

"By keeping deer densities low, we can keep the prevalence low," he said.

The forest preserve district supplements the state's culling program with a bow hunting program it started two years ago in the Brunner and Freeman Kame forest preserves. The first full hunting program last year resulted in 38 hunters harvesting 25 deer for disease testing. In all the deer shot by the state and hunters last year, five deer tested positive for chronic wasting disease.

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All the disease-free deer shot by the state were ground up, divided into one-pound bags and donated to the Northern Illinois Food Bank.

Commissioner Barb Wojnicki said she'd like to see the district's hunting program expand to reduce the need for the state's sharpshooters. Commissioner Drew Frasz said the incidence of the disease is slowly trending upward, which is the best reason to continue partnering with the state.

"This is the only successful state program that's out there," Frasz said. "So I think we should support it."

The full forest preserve commission must still take a vote before the plan is locked in. Assuming a favorable vote, the culling program would run during the evening, Monday through Thursday, Jan. 19 to March 31.

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