Deer harvest down in Illinois, Kane County
By Mike Danahey firstname.lastname@example.org @DanaheyECN February 25, 2014 5:14PM
A doe with epizootic hemorrhagic disease during the Illinois 2012 outbreak. It’s common in deer with peracute EHD to see swollen tongues, and also bluish-colored tongues/lips. They also tend to be lethargic. | Photo courtesy of Jason Kuhlman of the IDNR.
Tables with preliminary county harvest totals for all the 2013-14 Illinois deer seasons, as well as comparable figures for the 2012-13 seasons, can be found on the IDNR link www.dnr.illinois.gov/news/Documents/IllinoisPreliminaryDeerHarvestTotalsJan2014.pdf.
For additional information on the IDNR deer management program, public meetings and hunter/citizen surveys, go to the IDNR link www.dnr.illinois.gov/conservation/wildlife/Pages/DeerOpenHouse.aspx.
Updated: February 26, 2014 1:27PM
The brutal winter apparently has had yet another adverse impact on Illinois, with the number of deer taken in the state’s latest hunting season down significantly from the year before.
According to statistics provided by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, hunters in Illinois harvested a preliminary total of 148,569 deer during all 2013-14 seasons, compared with a total harvest of 180,811 in 2012-13.
A release from the IDNR says Illinois was among several Midwestern and Great Lakes region states in which deer harvest declined in 2013-14, including Missouri, Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio.
“Biologists cited a number of factors for the decline, especially during November/December firearm seasons, including adverse weather, herd reductions to achieve management goals and, in some locations, deer mortality due to outbreaks of epizootic hemorrhagic disease,” the release states.
IDNR Forest Wildlife Manager Paul Shelton said that the disease is fairly common and fast-acting. It is caused by a biting fly and typically happens with a wet spring followed by a hot, dry summer. It is not communicable from deer to human. Once a hard frost occurs, the insect is gone from the ecosystem and the deer no longer become infected.
IDNR numbers show that Illinois hunters took a preliminary total of 74,355 deer during the 2013 Illinois Firearm Deer Season (Nov. 22-24 and Dec. 5-8, 2013), 3,546 deer during the 2013 Illinois Muzzleloader-Only Deer Season (Dec. 13-15, 2013), and 3,012 deer during the 2013 Illinois Youth Deer Season (Oct. 12-14, 2013).
During the 2013-14 Illinois Archery Deer Season (Oct. 1, 2013-Jan. 19, 2014), hunters across the state killed a preliminary total of 57,290 deer, compared with the deer harvest of 59,805 in the 2012-13 archery season.
The 2013-14 Late Winter Antlerless Only and Special Chronic Wasting Disease deer seasons (Dec. 26-29, 2013, and Jan. 17-19, 2014) — in which sharpshooters cull deer in hotspots where the disease has been seen — had a combined preliminary harvest total for both seasons of 10,366 deer, compared with a harvest of 14,723 deer taken during those seasons in 2012-13, according to the IDNR.
In Kane County, the counts for archery season were 379 in 2012 and 302 in 2013. For the youth season, three deer were killed in the county in 2012 and two in 2013. There were 51 shot here during 2012 firearm season and 35 in 2013. One muzzle-loader kill was registered in 2012 and five in 2013 in Kane. And there were 13 kills in 2012-13 later winter/CWD season and 21 in 20-2014 in the county.
Shelton noted that hunting by gun is banned in Cook and DuPage counties and was allowed in Kane less than 10 years ago — and only in the portion of the county that is west of Route 47.
Hunters in Boone, DeKalb, Grundy, Jo Daviess, Kendall, LaSalle, McHenry, Ogle, Stephenson and Winnebago counties and Kane County west of Route 47 participated in the CWD season, while another 55 counties were open for the Late Winter season.
The Special CWD season is used to assist in controlling the spread of chronic wasting disease in the Illinois deer herd. The IDNR also checks samples collected from hunters at stations set up across the state.
Shelton said that the prevalence of CWD has remained fairly constant across the whole of the state since the IDNR started monitoring for it in 2002, with that rate at less than 1 percent overall, and about 80 percent of cases in Winnebago and Boone counties.
“We’re bucking the national trend,” Shelton said.
CWD was first recorded in Illinois deer in the Rockford area in 2002, Jones said, and that general area is still where its prevalence appears to be highest in the state, where it has been recorded in 10 counties.
CWD is a infectious fatal disease that causes a deer to lose weight and literally waste away.
Canadian scientists are working on a vaccine, but no cure has been found yet. The disease can take a long time to manifest symptoms, Shelton said, and by then they animal often is close to dying.
While there is no evidence it is a human health threat, Shelton said the possibility can’t be ruled out that it may be — even if the risk appears to be very low.
As for the deer population, the IDNR has different goals for each part of the state depending on a number of factors, including development. Shelton said one measure to figure those populations is looking at the rate of accidents involving cars and deer, and the number of road miles travelled, in a particular area.
Shelton said those numbers seem to indicate that there are significantly fewer deer in Kane County now than 20 years ago, with the number more or less steadily declining over that time.
The department is revising its deer population objectives for more than 40 counties beginning with the 2014-15 deer season, following a two-year review of Illinois deer management efforts.
“Illinois’ deer population objectives are intended to reflect the best effort to balance the interests of all Illinoisans — including hunters, wildlife observers, farmers, homeowners, outfitters, nursery owners, conservationists, motorists, businessmen, and many others. Each of these groups can have a very different perspective on the desired size of the deer population in Illinois,” the release states.
An online survey available through the IDNR website asks hunters whether the recent practice of selling remaining firearm permits over-the-counter through the end of the season should end for all hunters except youth under age 16. The survey is available to hunters at www.dnr.illinois.gov.