News

Illinois Hunters and Wildlife Department Divided Over CWD Management

Wildlife disease specialists remove tissue sample from harvested deer to test for chronic wasting disease.

Wildlife disease specialists remove tissue sample from harvested deer to test for chronic wasting disease.

To curb the chronic wasting disease (CWD) outbreak in Illinois, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (DNR) hired sharpshooters to reduce the deer population. While hunters in Illinois are happy about the effort, the fact that hunters were not offered a chance to assist the DNR at no cost to the state has some sportsmen questioning the wisdom of the move.

Regional Director of the Illinois Bowhunters Society Jim McFarlane and other hunters would like the state to let the hunters be their shooting team, rather than the hired sharpshooters.

“We want hunters to go in first. If they can’t get the job done then let sharpshooters take over,” McFarlane said to Petersen’s Hunting. “A lot of the sharpshooting efforts are taking place in forest preserves and parks that don’t allow hunting. That’s their excuse. Why can’t they let us in? Someone is going to be killing deer. Our taxpayer money is going to this when we could be doing it for free.”

Since control efforts were undertaken in 2003, nearly 11,000 deer in 10 CWD-affected counties have been taken, with 1,475 of those deer taken by sharpshooters over the past winter. That’s up to 28 percent of the deer population in those 10 counties taken by sharpshooters.

Additionally, the culling is not leaving many for the hunters to take. ”I hunted every day for 11 days straight and never saw a single deer,” McFarlane reported to Petersen’s Hunting. Jim Herkert is the Director of Resource Conservation for the DNR. He said fewer deer is just one of the consequences of trying to control the spread of CWD among the ungulate population. Aiding sharpshooting efforts that lead to the decreasing deer population are a number of measures that include relaxed bag limits, which allowed hunters to take an unlimited number of antlerless deer during archery season.

Dave Wiehle, a hunter from northern Illinois, has become an outspoken critic of the DNR’s management, even going so far as to call the agency’s culling efforts “mass murder.”

However, the culling and the controversy continues and has no immediate resolution in sight. Read the full report on Petersen’s Hunting.

Image from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources on the flickr Creative Commons; slider image from Jim Osborn/US Fish and Wildlife Service - Midwest Region on flickr

Any views or opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect those of OutdoorHub. Comments on this article reflect the sole opinions of their writers.
  • Jim Smith

    Dude, you ask why they don’t let hunters take care of it but you can’t even find a deer in 11 days of hunting. Yet the sharpshooters killed 1,475. You need to become a better hunter. LOL!

    • http://www.facebook.com/jon.weatherspoon Jon D Weatherspoon

      Uh…Jim…They probably used artificial lights after the sun went down. You know poached ‘em!

  • http://www.facebook.com/jon.weatherspoon Jon D Weatherspoon

    Welcome to ILL a NOISE logic! I was stationed there while in the USAF during two assignments for over a decade. Nanny state back in the 70s and now worse. FOID…”What the hell is that”? was one of the first questions I asked when I went to buy a couple boxes of ammo. The DOC officers in IL back then, were for the most part nice fellas, but sneaky and lazy as _________. They did little “active” patrol and instead would await hunters coming out of State-owned areas and give us the 3rd degree. During waterfowl season, they would wait at the boat ramps on the upper end of Carlyle Lake where we hunted and again…more dog and pony show. They always acted like everyone was a law-breaker and not a law-abiding hunter. It didn’t matter to them that they had “inspected” your shotgun, boat and other equipment for the past two or three days straight. They’d play the folly over and over. Hunters and fishermen are the people that pay their way while supporting wildlife and State Conservation/Wildlife agencies around the nation through Dingle-Johnson, Pittman-Robertson and license sales/fees, yet “victims” of such tactics and receivers of liberal’s sticks n stones. Any officer that conducted himself in the manner with which a few of these LEOs seemed accustomed would have some reckoning to deal with. Illegal searches…ain’t gonna happen with this age-experienced guy. I won’t set foot in IL except in an airport terminal during a stop-over, due to many factors. Illinois’ position on the 2nd Amendment, the RKBA and the God-given right of all animals to defend themselves (call it survival..whatever you want) stands head and shoulders above all else. I’m very empathetic toward the sportsman, as there are fair to fantastic fishing and hunting opportunities available across the state. Oh well…I’m rambling again, but to not allow hunters to participate in the removal of inflicted animals or harvesting healthy ones to reduce the propensity for further spread of CWD is a foolhardy thing. Rather than paying “sharp shooters”, I bet (I know) sportsmen would pay for the opportunity to assist in removing animals. A simple meeting at the local Community Center, names of eager hunters into a hat and draw two to half-dozen with a quick “range accuracy capability test” to ensure those drawn can send a shotgun slug or muzzle loaded projectile (IL disallows center fire) for deer, but should make the exception here, into an eight to ten-inch target at 100-150yds. Pretty simple, saves wasted tax payer money while generating revenue. Such a remedy would provide an opportunity for citizens living in the affected areas to assist and partner with the Conservation Dept in attempts to control the spread of this dreadful disease. We have a small cluster of counties in north-central Missouri that are experiencing CWD. The MDC didn’t yet try to solve them on their own to my knowledge, but removed the requirement that bucks have at least 4 points on one side of a their antlers. For the long-term betterment of the deer populations, an all-out slaughter may be required to interrupt the disease process’ cycle. Any way we slice it, the bottom line is that all pathetically-inflicted deer (ribs almost showing through the hide, emaciated, trembling, etc) should be quickly dispatched on-sight and their whole carcass burned to ashes on the spot to lessen the impacts. Plagues have a funny way of affecting the inhabitants of the Earth, as history has shown, but this disease is hit & miss in too many areas where those delicious back strap-toting critters live. Deer jerky anyone?
    Welcome to ILL a NOISE logic! I was stationed there while in the USAF during two assignments for over a decade. Nanny state back in the 70s and now worse. FOID…”What the hell is that”? was one of the first questions I asked when I went to buy a couple boxes of ammo.

    The DOC officers in IL back then, were for the most part nice fellas, but sneaky and lazy as _________. They did little “active” patrol and instead would await hunters coming out of State-owned areas and give us the 3rd degree. During waterfowl season, they would wait at the boat ramps on the upper end of Carlyle Lake where we hunted and again…more dog and pony show. They always acted like everyone was a law-breaker and not a law-abiding hunter. It didn’t matter to them that they had “inspected” your shotgun, boat and other equipment for the past two or three days straight. They’d play the folly over and over. Hunters and fishermen are the people that pay their way while supporting wildlife and State Conservation/Wildlife agencies around the nation through Dingle-Johnson, Pittman-Robertson and license sales/fees, yet “victims” of such tactics and receivers of liberal’s sticks n stones.

    Any officer that conducted himself in the manner with which a few of these LEOs seemed accustomed would have some reckoning to deal with. Illegal searches…ain’t gonna happen with this age-experienced guy.

    I won’t set foot in IL except in an airport terminal during a stop-over, due to many factors. Illinois’ position on the 2nd Amendment, the RKBA and the God-given right of all animals to defend themselves (call it survival..whatever you want) stands head and shoulders above all else. I’m very empathetic toward the sportsman, as there are fair to fantastic fishing and hunting opportunities available across the state.

    Oh well…I’m rambling again, but to not allow hunters to participate in the removal of inflicted animals or harvesting healthy ones to reduce the propensity for further spread of CWD is a foolhardy thing. Rather than paying “sharp shooters”, I bet (I know) sportsmen would pay for the opportunity to assist in removing animals. A simple meeting at the local Community Center, names of eager hunters into a hat and draw two to half-dozen with a quick “range accuracy capability test” to ensure those drawn can send a shotgun slug or muzzle loaded projectile (IL disallows center fire) for deer, but should make the exception here, into an eight to ten-inch target at 100-150yds.

    Pretty simple, saves wasted tax payer money while generating revenue. Such a remedy would provide an opportunity for citizens living in the affected areas to assist and partner with the Conservation Dept in attempts to control the spread of this dreadful disease. We have a small cluster of counties in north-central Missouri that are experiencing CWD. The MDC didn’t yet try to solve them on their own to my knowledge, but removed the requirement that bucks have at least 4 points on one side of a their antlers. For the long-term betterment of the deer populations, an all-out slaughter may be required to interrupt the disease process’ cycle.

    Any way we slice it, the bottom line is that all pathetically-inflicted deer (ribs almost showing through the hide, emaciated, trembling, etc) should be quickly dispatched on-sight and their whole carcass burned to ashes on the spot to lessen the impacts. Plagues have a funny way of affecting the inhabitants of the Earth, as history has shown, but this disease is hit & miss in too many areas where those delicious back strap-toting critters live. Deer jerky anyone?