Du Page deer vaults county into ‘hot spot’

Hanover Park, Ill. — Du Page County has joined an exclusive club state deer biologists had hoped would never expand membership.

A deer in the county’s forest preserve district was confirmed to have chronic wasting disease. It represents the first CWD case in Du Page, and pushes the list of Illinois counties with at least one positive case from 10 to 11.

Tom Micetich, DNR Deer Project manager, confirmed the CWD deer on Jan. 16. He said the deer that was tested and later confirmed to have CWD was culled under a Deer Population Control Permit issued to the forest preserve district.

“We ask that all animals older than fawn be tested for CWD,” Micetich explained.

The deer found to be CWD-positive was reportedly found dead in the Mallard Lake Forest Preserve, near Hanover Park.

According to DNR records, the district culled 250 deer as part of its deer management program last year, with 85 of those deer tested for CWD. Forest preserve officials said 20 more deer are expected to be culled before mid-

February from Mallard Lake and Hawk Hollow Forest Preserve, which borders Mallard Lake.

The forest preserve district is working with DNR to further test deer in the area. Even with the addition of Du Page County to the small list of CWD counties, confirmed cases of the disease remains contained to what Micetich has called a “hot spot.”

Since the disease was first found in the state’s deer herd in 2002, there have been a total of 373 confirmed cases.

DNR had confirmed 36 CWD cases in eight counties during 2012. Kane and Winnebago counties each had seven positive cases in 2012. Boone, DeKalb and Grundy each had five confirmed cases. McHenry followed with three, while Ogle and Stephenson reported two each.

Jo Daviess and LaSalle, which had previous CWD reports, did not have a confirmed case last year.

Du Page is bordered by Kane County to the west. Kane had its first confirmed case in 2011. It had a total of four cases that year.

“The hot spot is still the hot spot,” Micetich said late in 2012, after Illinois cases had dropped from 42 in 2011 to 36 last year. “I’d say the good news is that we haven’t seen an increase. But we’re still testing.”

Sampling is accomplished primarily by collecting tissues from hunter-harvested deer, road-killed deer in known CWD-infected areas, deer taken under authority of urban deer population control permits, nuisance deer removal permits and deer taken by DNR sharpshooters in CWD areas.

As for Du Page County, officials there are not ready to panic.

“There is no threat to the public’s health or safety,” Forest Preserve District’s ecologist Brian Kraskiewicz told reporters this month.

Deer harvest creeps up

Meanwhile, in counties where it is legal, hunters harvested 7,749 deer during the first segment of the 2012-13 late-winter/CWD deer season, which took place Dec. 27-30. The harvest was an 18.3 percent increase over the first weekend in 2011-12, even though there were nine fewer counties participating. The top five counties harvest for the first segment of the late-winter/CWD seasons: Pike (411), Fulton (389), Jo Daviess (351), Adams and Jefferson (tie – 256).

The final segment of the late-winter/CWD seasons took place Jan. 18-20. 

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