Joint Illinois Deer Population Task Force Makes Final Recommendations
Committee focused on ways to manage deer populations
SPRINGFIELD – The Joint Task Force on Deer Population Control (JTF) has made final recommendations on ways to manage the Illinois deer population, provide additional deer hunting opportunities, and reduce deer/vehicle accidents throughout the state. The recommendations include extending portions of some deer seasons, expanding educational outreach efforts, and making certain seasonal permits available to the public more readily and for longer periods of time.
“I want to thank the members of this task force and the public for their dedication to this important issue,” said Illinois Department of Natural Resources Acting Director Sam Flood. “Managing the state’s deer population is an ongoing responsibility, and I commend this group for its well thought out, data driven recommendations to better manage the state’s deer herd.”
The JTF recommends that the rate of deer/vehicle accidents be used as the objective to guide deer management and to judge the success or failure of the state’s deer management programs. The specific target rate (both statewide and at the county level) was set at halfway between the minimum and maximum rates measured during the period 1994 through 2007. The statewide target rate corresponds to a 14 percent decrease in the accident rate from the statewide peak observed during 2003.
The Joint Task Force on Deer Population Control was created by House Joint Resolution 65 of the 95th General Assembly, with the mission “to examine and make recommendations on ways to manage the Illinois deer population.” The Joint Task Force consisted of 15 members including members of the General Assembly (or their appointee), state agencies including the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) and constituent groups. The JTF met four times between April and October 2008, and conducted a series of six public meetings around the state to seek public comment about changes that were being considered.
The JTF recommends the following changes in Illinois deer management:
That deer permits for the antlerless-only Late-Winter Season be made available to hunters over-the-counter (OTC) at license vendors throughout the state, rather than through the current application and lottery system;
That counties included in the Late-Winter Deer Season be categorized into two groups for permitting purposes, based upon their deer population status: (a) counties that are slightly above goal levels, in which only one permit could be purchased; and (b) counties that are significantly above goal levels, in which an unlimited number of permits could be purchased.
That the length of the Late-Winter Deer Season be extended from three to nine days.
That permits for the regular Firearm Deer Season which remain unallocated after two lottery drawings be sold OTC on a first-come, first served basis until the end of that season.
That the length of the first segment of the regular Firearm Deer Season be extended from three to four days, beginning on a Friday and ending on a Monday.
Expansion of educational outreach programs relating to deer, including creation of a new web site (“Living with Illinois Deer”); increased support for the Sportsman Against Hunter program (venison donations); support for some type of Hunter Access Program to improve hunter access to private lands; working with the Illinois Department of Transportation to enhance traffic safety programs related to deer-vehicle accidents; and working with the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office to develop materials related to deer for the Drivers’ Safety program.
Formation of a task force to review programs designed to reduce crop damage by deer.
The recommendations are currently being reviewed by IDNR wildlife staff to determine feasibility and timetables for implementation. None of the changes recommended by the JTF require new legislation; all could be accomplished via administrative rule.
The complete report of the Joint Task Force on Deer Population Control is available online at through the IDNR web site at http://dnr.state.il.us.