Hunters to talk deer at forums

Springfield — As promised, hunters are going to get their say about the state’s deer herd

DNR has scheduled a series of “open houses” up and down the state the first week of June. The public forums are designed to allow participants to ask questions and receive information about deer hunting seasons, deer culling programs, deer programs and, of course, the deer themselves.

DNR Director Marc Miller announced in late February that he had directed the agency’s wildlife staff to set up the public meetings. His goal, he said, is to allow state residents to “have their say.”

Miller said DNR staff will be on hand at each of the five scheduled meetings to answer questions and discuss DNR’s deer management program, hunting regulations and management of chronic wasting disease.

The meetings will take place from 4-7 p.m. at the following locations and dates:

  • June 3 – Rockford Public Library (East Branch), 6685 E. State St., Rockford
  • June 4 – Hickory Hills Discovery Center (Twinleaf West room), St. Charles Park District, 3795 Campton Hills Road, St. Charles
  • June 5 – Champaign County Farm Bureau Auditorium, 801 Country Fair Drive, Champaign
  • June 6 – John A. Logan College (TDR room), 700 Logan Drive, Carterville
  • June 11 – PASA Park, 1 Pasa Park, Barry

Because June tends to be a busy month for many people, DNR has decided to also post all materials presented at the June meetings on the DNR website. Not only will materials be posted, the public will be allowed to provide comments. The comments will be compiled with those from the actual meetings for DNR staff to analyze when making decisions about its deer management program.

The last time public meetings on the deer herd were held was in 2008, shortly after formation of the state’s Joint Task Force On Deer Population Control. That task force included members of the agricultural committees of both chambers, a representative from the Illinois Insurance Association, someone from the Illinois Farm Bureau and a member of United Bowhunters of Illinois. After public meetings and internal discussion, the task force recommended longer hunting seasons and over-the-counter sale of deer tags.

The recommendations were implemented, and the task force declared that success would be measured by, among other things, a decrease in the number of deer-vehicle accidents.

Since then, hunters have been vocal about the deer herd and DNR’s deer management program. Because of the task force’s recommendations, DNR aimed to reduce the deer population by 14 percent. That goal was reached this past year.  According to DNR figures, the herd has dropped about 100,000 deer from its peak around eight years ago and now stands at approximately 700,000.

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