IDNR announced the closure of 8 more counties from the late-winter antlerless seasons (LWS) in the 2015-16 deer hunting season. Counties that will be newly closed this year are:
The number of counties open to the LWS now stands at 27. This is down from roughly 70 counties just a few years ago. A trend of herd reduction strategies, coupled with two years of EHD in 2012-13, has pushed many counties well below their population goal that was established by the Joint Deer Task Force and IDNR biologists in 2008.
Based on the latest deer-vehicle accident (DVA) data I have (2013), these new counties were below their population goals for the first time in 2013. This tells me that preliminary data is indicating another year (2014) below the population goal for these counties.
IDOT has not made the final 2014 DVA data available as of August 31, 2015.
In addition, two counties have been added to the Special CWD Hunting Season in 2015, due to the detection of CWD-positive deer last year. This now brings the total CWD counties to 14.
Click here for the link to the IDNR press release, which includes which counties are open for both the LWS and CWD seasons.
It’s disappointing that the IDNR press release contains nothing about these counties being below their population goal. And there’s no mention of the need to cut back on deer harvest. And there’s no mention if any other permit numbers were decreased in all the firearm lotteries that have already taken place.
I just read another article online about the change to the LWS counties. This writer suggested that hunters fill their already-issued permits early, since there would be fewer days to do it this year. This is NOT the message that should be sent. But without any kind of communication to cut back on harvest, this is what people will assume.
These counties have an average of a 32% herd reduction from their peak populations… and they average over 9% BELOW their target population (as of 2013). The message that needs to get out is… the herd in these areas need to GROW.