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DNR budget problems force re-evaluation of deer programs

March 21, 2012 at 06:01 PM

Prairie State Outdoors

Budget pressures are forcing the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to re-evaluate its sharpshooting program used to reduce deer densities and control chronic wasting disease - particularly in northern Illinois.

DNR issued a press release Wednesday saying that deer management programs, including the sharpshooting program, are being re-evaluated.

“Since 2004, IDNR has supplemented hunter harvest by using Department sharpshooters each winter to reduce deer densities in known CWD hotspots in northern Illinois counties,” the agency said in a release. “This management approach has suppressed the rate of CWD infection in deer at very low levels.”

In fiscal 2011, 42 new cases of chronic wasting disease were confirmed out of more than 3,800 samples (or 1 out of every 92 deer tested).

“While the sharpshooting program is effective, budget reductions over the past decade are compelling the department to explore alternative means of reducing deer herd density in CWD counties.”

The budget proposed by Gob. Pat Quinn cuts DNR’s budget for fiscal 2013 13 percent compared with 2012.

DNR is facing a budget deficit this fiscal year that is expected to grow to $17 - $22 million by the end of fiscal 2013.

DNR says several options are on the table, including changes in hunting programs, helping landowning government agencies with herd reduction efforts, and using hunters to increase their deer harvest on private lands. 

DNR spokesman Chris McCloud said the agency likely will solicit public comments and suggestions early this summer.

“We are constantly re-evaluating programs,” said DNR spokesman Chris McCloud. “The fact of the matter is, in light of budget considerations, we have to find different, more effective and fiscally responsible ways to meet our goals.

“We don’t have the money to continue to do things the way we have in the past.”

DNR says deer herd reduction targets set by the Joint Legislative Task Force on Deer Population Control in 2008 have mostly been met.

The task force set a goal of a 14 percent herd reduction with deer-vehicle accidents to be used as the measuring stick.

The statement said:

“The statewide accident rate is very close to the identified goal, although some counties still remain higher than desired.”

To reduce deer-vehicle accident rates, DNR expanded the late-winter season and made additional permits available in some counties, starting in 2009.

A special CWD deer season also was instituted in 2009.

Related stories

Quinn’s budget cuts DNR 13 percent

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources will absorb a 13 percent budget cut in Fiscal 2013 if the budget proposed by Gov. Pat Quinn becomes law. Quinn unveiled his proposed budget during an address before the Illinois General Assembly Wednesday.

Your CommentsComments :: Terms :: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Mr. Young instead of just cutting and pasting the DNR news bits, or paraphrasing what the other Chris thinks, how about asking the tough questions or suggesting solutions.  Why in the hell does the DNR measure our deer herd by deer/vehicle accidents?  Why in the hell does my county in Illinois not use “deer crossing” signs, is this all counties?  If prions in certain soil types cause CWD and those prions are only killed by some detergents in a lab setting, why the hell does that translate to killing a huge portion of the deer herd.  Why not put the time and money into treating the soil.  How many -- -- -- acres to we treat for corn and beans, yeah its possible.  If you write articles like this to provoke, ignore my first sentence.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/21 at 09:10 PM

Here’s a story I wrote last year about the task force and the reasons for using deer/vehicle accidents:

There likely will be many possible solutions (to replacing or augmenting sharpshooters) brought to the table once the process gets underway. Since there are no specifics yet as to when and how the public will be able to comment, I just wanted to get the information out to hunters quickly.

There no doubt will be a lot of discussion on this because many hunters have complained that paying hunters should be thinning deer herds in CWD counties. Here’s an editorial from the Rockford Register Star on the issue. You will see by the comments that there are strong feelings:

There also are safety considerations, because many concentrations of deer in CWD areas are in semi-urban or exurban areas where hunting often is not allowed.

You are right that this deserves a longer, more in depth look. I hope to have the chance to report on this further as the public is asked for input.

As for your question about treating soil that may be contaminated, I will have to do some reading on that. I haven’t heard that, but with budgets as tight as they are, I don’t know if it is practical to treat large areas - even if it was possible.

Thanks for your questions.


Posted by Chris Young on 03/21 at 09:48 PM

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