Oh, deer!

IDNR looks to maintain or increase deer population

PRINCETON — Bureau County deer hunters, as well as those in 40 other Illinois counties, could see a decrease in the number of deer hunting permits granted for the 2014-15 year by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR).

IDNR Director Marc Miller said the possible decrease in the number of granted deer permits would reflect a revision of deer population objectives for the state. That revision follows a two-year review of Illinois deer management efforts, taking into account such factors as automobile/car crashes and hunting statistics, he said.

“The IDNR manages deer by county and state population goals, and as a result of our two-year review, we’re making changes for many counties. In these counties our strategy is shifting from deer herd reduction to maintaining or increasing deer populations,” Miller said.

Natural resource biologists have determined deer population goals can now be increased in those affected counties, while still keeping the overall numbers at levels which will reduce conflicts between deer and people, such as automobile/deer accidents and farm crop damages, Miller said.

The biologists have given several factors which have contributed to the deer population decline, including adverse weather conditions, herd reduction efforts, and in some locations, deer mortality due to outbreaks of epizootic hemorrhagic disease, or EHD, Miller said.

Bureau County Sheriff John Thompson said he’s seen a “significant decrease” in the number of the deer/vehicle collision in Bureau County in recent years. Two years ago, about 49 percent of vehicle accidents in the county involved deer, but that number has gone down significantly.

As reported Dec. 31, 2013, in the Bureau County Republican, Bureau County had also seen a 29 percent decrease in the number of firearm-killed deer during the 2013 firearm hunting season. At that time, Wyanet Locker co-owner Pat Wood said the processing of deer at the locker plant was down by 100 to 150 deer during the first shotgun season in late November, and by at least 75 deer in the second shotgun season in December.

Statewide, the IDNR reported hunters in Illinois harvested a preliminary total of 148,569 deer during the 2013-14 seasons, compared with 180,811 deer harvested in 2012-13.

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