Hunter arrested for deer cull protest

Somonauk, Ill. —  A deer hunter with a history of protesting DNR’s deer culling practices was arrested after he allegedly attempted to obstruct a sharpshooter from killing deer.

The charges against Keith Wiersma, 59, of Sandwich, include disorderly conduct involving a March 15 confrontation at the Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) property. 

A May 24 court date has been set.

Incident report records include claims that Wiersma put a flashlight into a DNR sharpshooter’s tent and “called the sharpshooter names.”

Until April 1, DNR had been culling deer near the property as a way to monitor chronic wasting disease. Wiersma, who had complained publicly about the culling prior to his arrest, has claimed the number of deer on his nearby property has decreased since the sharpshooting program began. During the incident that got him arrested, Wiersma said he approached the sharpshooter’s tent and asked what he was doing.

“There’s not one sign that identifies that gentleman in that tent that says he has the right to  be out here,” Wiersma told WSPY radio. “You’re paying somebody to be out here shooting deer at night. Who’s paying for all of this? I said ‘you have thousands of deer that we check in every year that are legally hunted, legally harvested, legally put into my freezer, and everybody else’s freezer to feed our families. You have all these deer to examine, and yet you’ve got to come out here, out of season, at night, shooting over bait, being paid to do it.’ That’s ridiculous.”

The property in question is in DeKalb County, which has had a total of 66 confirmed cases of CWD since DNR began monitoring the disease in 2003. The county had eight positive cases during both FY 2015 and FY 2014. The FY 2016 count is expected to be released in late summer.

ComEd confirmed that it gave DNR permission to access its property to monitor deer. 

The culling program is scheduled to resume in the fall.

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