Illinois Deer Harvest Increases This Season

Illinois Deer Harvest Increases This Season

ILLINOIS (IRN) — Illinois hunters harvested 153,048 deer during the most recent hunting season through a program that does more than fill freezers with venison.

The state’s hunting program also helps control the deer population.

Dan Skinner, forest wildlife program manager for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, said without hunters, the deer population in the state would explode.

“We would have no way to manage our population,” he said. Deer have no natural predators in the state. “You get overpopulation, you have problems that impact agriculture producers. They have more damage to their crops.”

Overpopulated areas also see damage to lawns and landscaping, and there are vehicle crashes involving deer as well, he said.

This year, 3,167 deer were harvested during the special Chronic Wasting Disease hunt in select counties. This disease was first spotted in the state in 2002.

“Chronic wasting disease can be spread from deer to deer through direct contact, but it can also be picked up by deer from a contaminated environment,” Skinner said.

To help keep Chronic Wasting Disease at bay, hunters are allowed a bonus season in areas where the disease is present. Thinning out the herd means there are fewer animals to catch the disease and fewer to spread it. The state also studies animals to see where the disease is spreading.

“We will test thousands of samples from deer across the state. And that gives us an idea of where the disease is this year,” Skinner said.

Chronic Wasting Disease has been found in deer in 17 counties across the state. There is currently no treatment or vaccine to prevent the disease from spreading.

The Centers for Disease Control said the disease has never been documented as spreading to humans.

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