Most deer sampled for CWD come from hunters

Moline, Ill. —  Deer hunters in Illinois aren’t expecting any headlines or news flashes when DNR’s 2016 CWD report comes out later this year. Neighboring states, on the other hand, are creating enough media buzz to go around – Missouri and Wisconsin both are mulling options and shuffling their respective decks to combat the disease. 

In Illinois, which had 538 confirmed positive cases between Fiscal Year 2003 and Fiscal Year 2015, the biggest news involves the several ongoing culling programs that harvest deer in a 16-county area known as the CWD “hot zone.”  

But the most recent culling agreement between DNR and a municipality has nothing to do with CWD. The Moline City Council passed a special ordinance this month that will allow firearms to be used in taking deer from a section of the city that DNR has deemed “overpopulated” with deer. 

Property belonging to Moline businessman Hunt Harris will be hunted by two off-duty sharpshooters from the Moline Police Department.

That program has nothing to do with CWD – Moline is in Rock Island County, which does not border any of the counties in the CWD hot zone. 

Hunters have provided bulk of deer

Sampling of deer has become an issue in the state because many hunters in affected areas believe hunters should be used to take deer and that the state is killing too many deer for sampling purposes.

A recent case in DeKalb County resulted in the arrest of a hunter who protested DNR’s culling efforts there. DeKalb has had 66 positive cases of CWD since 2003, including eight last year and eight the year before.

According to DNR’s FY 2015 CWD report, more than 89,448 deer have been sampled since FY 2003 – not counting those sampled since July 1, 2015. 

In FY 2015 – the period July 1, 2014,  through June 30, 2015 – DNR collected 7,902 samples that were passed along to the Illinois Department of Agriculture’s Animal Disease Laboratory in Galesburg. Many of the deer in the sampling were harvested by hunters and sampled at check stations and meat lockers in counties located inside the state’s CWD hot zone. In fact, of the 7,902 sampled, 6,418 came from hunter harvest. A total of 861 were taken by DNR sharpshooters. The rest were municipal sharpshooting programs (532), roadkills (63) and suspect deer (28).

Of the 71 positive deer confirmed CWD positive in FY 2015, 39 came from hunter harvest and 24 were from DNR sharpshooting. Suspect deer (6), municipal sharpshooting (1) and roadkill (1) accounted for the others.

Neighboring states doing battle

Missouri’s Conservation Department recently reported seven deer were found with CWD out of 7,700 deer harvested under a special testing program conducted last fall and winter. Since CWD was first discovered there in 2010, a total of 33 cases have been confirmed in that state.

Missouri also announced new testing requirements in 29 counties in the areas where infected deer have been discovered. 

In those areas, hunters will be required to  bring to a department CWD testing center any deer harvested during the opening weekend of the fall firearms deer season. More than 51,000 deer have been tested for CWD in Missouri. 

In Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker announced a series of changes, but rejected suggestions to resume thinning the state’s herds. Walker wants to update the state’s CWD plan by seeking input from hunters, landowners, farmers and foresters through county deer advisory councils.

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