State CWD report: 72 positive deer in FY16
Springfield — There were 72 CWD-positive deer identified in Illinois during the recently ended fiscal year, only one more than the 71 positives discovered during FY 2015. But DNR isn’t ready to celebrate the flat numbers – 72 represents the most cases since the state began monitoring.
“We’d like to see the numbers decreasing, obviously, but we also see it as good news that the number of CWD deer didn’t rise dramatically,” said Doug Dufford, DNR’s wildlife disease program manager. “In general, our big concern is the expansion of where the positive deer are being found. The number of counties with a CWD positive remained the same, but the positive deer we identified were in a wider area and in new areas of those counties. We’re being very cautious.”
In its FY 2016 CWD Surveillance and Management Report, which covered the period between July 1, 2015, and June 30, 2016, DNR notes that 8,544 deer were tested over the course of the year – 6,850 of the deer were taken by hunters. The disease prevalence rate for deer taken by hunters was a relatively low 1.09 percent.
“While prevalence rates have remained very low and changed little over time since discovery of CWD in 2002, there does seem to be a very slowly increasing trend in recent years,” authors of the report noted.
True, the number of positive cases each year hovered between 36 and 51 between 2003 and 2013. It jumped to 59 in 2014 and then to 71 last year.
Three counties – DuPage, Lake and Livingston – had no confirmed cases in FY 2016. Kankakee, Will and Winnebago each had only one case. It’s important to note the single case in Winnebago because it has been considered one of the state’s “hot spots” for CWD, with a leading 169 cases since 2002. It had eight cases last year and 13 the year before.
According to the report, the other counties with positive deer were Boone (11), DeKalb (3), Grundy (3), JoDaviess (9), Kane (8), Kendall (6), LaSalle (5), McHenry (8), Ogle (6) and Stephenson (10).
The report also points out that the county with the highest CWD prevalence rate in 2016 was Boone County at 10 percent.
“Prevalence rates in other counties were considerably lower, but a number of localities within those counties remain a concern, particularly where heightened prevalence rates coincide with significant deer densities,” the report explained, while including specific examples:
• Southeastern JoDaviess and southwestern Stephenson counties, which have consistently produced CWD positive deer the past six years.
• Northeastern Kane County, where deer hunting is limited to archery season only, and much of the deer habitat is within subdivisions or owned by local units of government.
• Western Kendall County along the Fox River and its tributaries. CWD was first found in Kendall County only recently (2012-13), and deer habitat is limited, but prevalence rates have been very high in this block during the past few years.
• The Illinois River and its tributaries in LaSalle and Grundy counties, where CWD positive deer are now being consistently identified each year. High deer densities along the Illinois make control difficult.
Although the report featured mostly positive news, Dufford reiterated DNR’s watchdog stance on disease. Changes this season will include the addition of three mandatory firearms deer check stations in Kankakee, Kendall and Livingston counties, bringing the total check stations to 13.
The full 2016 CWD report and informational videos can be found at www.dnr.illinois.gov/programs/cwd.