Hunters invited to pose CWD questions
Springfield — DNR has scheduled three public meetings later this month to share information about its fight against chronic wasting disease and answer questions about CWD’s affect on future deer populations.
The meetings will be held in Elizabeth, Freeport and Yorkville.
Hunters and property owners are encouraged to attend, said Doug Dufford, DNR’s wildlife disease and invasives program manager.
“CWD is an important issue that will dominate deer management discussions in northern Illinois for many years,” he noted.
A handful of similar meetings were held last fall and a single CWD meeting was called by DNR this past May in Ottawa.
More recently, DNR released its annual CWD report in late July. It showed that 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.
Through June 30, there have been a total of 610 confirmed CWD cases in the state since monitoring began in 2003.
“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,” Dufford said after the report was released. “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 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.
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.
Meanwhile, Illinois continues to be lauded for its CWD control efforts while other states suffer. Earlier this year it was announced that more than 9 percent of deer tested last year in Wisconsin were positive for CWD. The 2015 prevalence rate was the highest since the disease was discovered in the state in 2002 and represented a spike of more than 50 percent from the previous year.
Illinois officials reported a 1.2 percent prevalence rate in 2015 and a 1.09 rate in 2016.
Wisconsin’s CWD has increased in geographical distribution, too. Last year, for the first time, more than half the state’s 72 counties were declared “CWD affected.”
As for the Illinois informational meetings, they will begin at 7 p.m. with a 30-minute presentation and discussion to follow. The meeting dates and locations are:
• Sept. 21 – Community Building, 402 West St., Elizabeth
• Sept. 27 – Stephenson County Farm Bureau Bldg., 210 W. Spring St., #3, Freeport
• Sept. 28 – Meadowhawk Lodge, Hoover Forest Preserve, 11285 Fox Road, Yorkville.