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Northern Ill.’s deer population concerns readers

My mailbox is overflowing. Between recent articles on poaching, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources’ management of chronic wasting disease and the general sentiment that there is a lack of deer in northern Illinois, readers have shared a variety of opinions. Let me turn the column over to you this week.

Max LeCrone wrote, “I don’t believe the deer have changed their habits and only come out at night since there are no tracks in the creek crossings, deer runs or fields.I have hunted deer since 1963 and know that when there are very few rubs and scrapes the deer are not there. I saw only one buck the whole firearm and muzzleloader seasons.

“Decline? Put me down for a huge ‘yes.’ I pray the IDNR will see the problem before they have to come out and say ‘We overestimated our deer herd and now it is too late to correct the problem.’ ”

Don Bekeleski also commented on the deer population.

“Four of us hunt, and we have always scored between six and eight deer every season – except for this one. One day, we pushed the entire 360 acres we have access to with blockers, and we saw only one pair of tracks on the property.”

Bill Bland of Crystal Lake offered his own take on the situation.

“I have hunted a beautiful piece of property for 20 years, smack in the middle of the CWD zone. In all [those] years, we’ve never seen or heard of a sick deer or the remains of one.

“In the past five years, we’ve seen a major decline in the overall population of the herd. Last year I hunted over 20 days and saw four deer. During seven full days of shotgun season, I didn’t see one deer.

“I really have to question the thinking on this solution of eradication of the herd.

“When a doe is taken at this time of year, she is usually is carrying two and possibly three fawns. So when you multiply the number of does taken by sharpshooters, the actual number of animals taken out of next year’s herd is much higher.

“Also, why do we need sharpshooters, when the IDNR could open a longer season with unlimited tags? This would not only cut out the money the IDNR spends on sharpshooters, but would help with money brought in by buying many tags. This disease has been around forever, it is not transferable to humans that consume the meat, and Mother Nature always has her own way of taking care of problems like this if it gets too serious. I just hope it’s not too late for my generation, and my kids, because when there are no deer to hunt there will be no hunters.”

Prairie Grove’s John Koss offered this opinion.

“My effort in writing to you is more about how you failed to address what is likely the real reason for the reduction of the deer population. In your article, you made several referenced to anecdotal evidence supporting the lower numbers of deer in and around our area. You seemed to indicate you believe numbers are down, at least on the surface. But then, you pooh-poohed those people’s opinions because of their inflated numbers and hyperbole.

“However, in your article, you did touch on what I think is the real reason for the reduction – auto/animal accidents. If you really want to discover the reason for the reduction in the deer population, as a good investigative reporter perhaps you might look at past donations or lobbyist efforts from the auto insurance industry to the IDNR.

“I think there is more to this theory than meets the eye. A little donation from a large insurance interest would go a very long way in reducing the overall number of auto/animal insurance claims in a very short time – especially if the IDNR can claim it is reducing the population due to chronic wasting disease. What a great investment for the insurance companies’ interests!”

I must say that this theory about the IDNR beingbribed by the insurance industry to kill all of our whitetail deer is widespread. I also believe it is ludicrous.

I’m no expert, but I do understand how insurance companies work, whether it is auto or health. At the end of the year, an insurance company totals all of its claims and then add its markup to cover its expenses and add in a profit percentage. Simple, isn’t it? In this case, if you really think about it, the insurance companies would be making more money if there were more accidents, not less.

An IDNR representative told me that neither the IDNR nor its deer program have not received any donations from insurance companies, so there goes that theory.

• Northwest Herald outdoors columnist Steve Sarley’s radio show, “The Outdoors Experience,” airs live at 5 a.m. Sundays on AM-560. He can be contacted at sarfishing@yahoo.com.

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