Firearm deer season totals down 25 percent
December 12, 2013 at 10:42 AM
Harsh weather conditions, a fall disease outbreak and reduced numbers of deer in some counties resulted in firearm deer hunting totals coming in 25 percent behind last year.
The State Journal-Register
Hunters killed a preliminary total of 74,191 deer during the seven-day firearm season Nov. 22-24 and Dec. 5-8, according to figures provided by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
That compares with the 99,546 deer taken during the 2012 firearm season.
The preliminary total for the second segment of the season Dec. 5 – 8 was 18,483, down from 27,213 in 2012.
Hunters killed 55,708 during the first segment Nov. 22-24, compared with 72,111 in 2012.
Cold, windy and snowy weather, including temperatures that bottomed out in the single digits during the second segment get some of the blame for lower harvest numbers.
Hunters worked in cold, windy conditions throughout much of the season.
“Clearly this year’s preliminary firearm harvest numbers are below previous seasons, and while bad weather conditions throughout the state played a role, it cannot be the only factor,” said DNR director Marc Miller in a statement.
“Once all deer seasons are complete, our biologists will evaluate deer management goals on a county by county basis to achieve stability in our deer herd.”
Illinois also experienced its second outbreak of epizootic hemorrhagic disease in as many years early this fall.
EHD is often fatal in deer.
Biting midges carry the virus that causes deer to experience high fever. EHD often is localized in its effects, hitting some areas hard while being barely noticeable in others.
The state also has been working to reduce overall deer numbers.
Since 2008, DNR has been working to implement recommendations of the General Assembly’s Joint Task Force on deer population control.
The task force called for a 14 percent reduction in the rate of deer/vehicle accidents.
According to DNR, many counties have met the goal, while others are close.
The number of accidents involving deer dropped from 18,044 in 2011 to 15,489 in 2012, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation.
Biologists continue to combat the spread of chronic wasting disease in northern Illinois.
While culling of deer in areas where the disease has been found has been unpopular with hunters, and some members of the public, a study found the efforts have helped slow the spread of CWD.
CWD is a neurological disease of deer and elk that is related to mad-cow disease.
According to the Illinois Natural History Survey, the prevalence of CWD in deer tested for the disease has remained at about one percent for the past decade.
During the 10-year period, deer killed in all seasons went from 147,830 to 181,451 in 2012.
The record deer harvest in Illinois occurred in 2005 when 201,209 deer were taken.
Archery deer hunting season continues in Illinois through Jan. 19.
A three-day muzzleloader-only season starts today and ends Sunday.
A late-season, antlerless-only and special CWD season in selected counties will be held Dec. 26-29 and Jan. 17-19.
Top counties during the seven-day firearm season were Pike (2,269), Jackson (1,931), Fulton (1,886), Jo Daviess (1,870), Randolph (1,786), and Adams (1,783).