Preliminary deer-vehicle accident (DVA) data was released last week. IDNR had been “waiting on current DVA data” before making any management decisions. However, don’t expect any changes beyond the bare minimum of taking a few counties out of the LWS.
So, what does the new data show?
The statewide DVA rate (which has been proven to correspond to the deer population) dropped again from 2014 to 2015. The statewide herd reduction rate has now climbed to 23.5% from its peak, compared to the IDNR target of a 14% reduction.
The 2.1% decrease is a stark contrast to the 6.5% increase in the deer harvest last year. This tells us what most of us already knew… that the higher harvest last year wasn’t an indicator of an increasing herd. It was a combination of excellent hunting weather, season timing, and probably hunter attitudes.
Looking closer at the county-specific numbers, it’s a mixed bag. Some initial thoughts on the data (most of which exclude CWD counties).
• 34 non-CWD counties have been below their DVA/population goal for at least 4 consecutive years.
• 8 non-CWD counties have now lost at least half of their deer herd since peak DVA years.
• 14 non-CWD counties have been reduced by 40-50% from their peak levels.
• 7 CWD counties have lowered their deer herd more than 50% since peak levels.
• Only 14 total non-CWD counties remain more than 10% OVER their DVA/population goal.
• 13 of the remaining 24 counties in the LWS are less than 10% above goal. 7 of those counties are below goal, but haven’t met the “2 year consecutive” minimum to be considered for removal.
IDNR finally made the landmark decision to remove Pike County from the herd-reducing LWS. Pike was under its deer population goal for the 6th consecutive year, when most counties are removed after their 2nd straight year below target. Another decrease in their 2015 population data shows that the herd is 54% lower than the peak, while their harvest totals in 2015 were 44% lower than their peak. Last year’s total deer harvest in Pike County was the lowest since 1994.
Is Adams County the next Pike, in terms of declining deer herd?
Following the EHD outbreak in 2012, Adams has been on a freefall. The DVA rate in Adams alone has dropped 43% since 2011. The DVA rate is at a historic low, even though the harvest was up slightly in 2015.
More analysis to come, but these are the highlights.
Illinois Whitetail Alliance (IWA) has posted the complete history of all 102 IL counties on its Facebook page. Included for each county is a graph showing the DVA history back to 1994, along with harvest data for the same time period. It also shows where each county currently sits in relation to the IDNR established goal.
Note: In light of the comments below (it appears that we may have different sets of data from IDOT), I’m going to post the disclaimer from IDOT that was provided to me.
DISCLAIMER: The motor vehicle crash data referenced herein was provided by the Illinois Department of Transportation. The author is responsible for any data analyses and conclusions drawn.
In other words… the data I used came directly from IDOT. The graphs and any other analysis came from me. I’ve used this same source of data every year since I’ve been tracking DVA’s independently, and we’ve always been spot on with the totals. I’m making every effort I can to make sure what I received was accurate. I can’t think of a reason why the same data provided to IDNR would show additional accidents. I’ll update the readers as I know more.