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Will Co. forest preserve deer culling program on hold

Forest Preserve District Will County has placed its annual deer culling program hold until officials see if there are any

Forest Preserve District of Will County has placed its annual deer culling program on hold until officials see if there are any cases of epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) among the deer here before proceeding. File photo | Sun-Times Media

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Updated: November 5, 2012 11:10AM

The Will County Forest Preserve District’s deer culling program is on hold this fall.

District officials are waiting to see if there are any cases of epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) among the deer here before proceeding, said Executive Director Marcy DeMauro. If so, the culling program could be reduced or canceled.

The district has culled deer for the past two winters in several county preserves. The program was controversial with some residents, but district officials maintained the program was necessary to reduce an overpopulation of deer.

Board President Cory Singer, R-Frankfort, said so far the program has been successful because the number of deer/auto collisions are down.

“Our first priority is always people,” he said. “That’s a significant outcome and that’s all I care about. It was the right thing to do.”

DeMauro said staff recommended another culling session this winter, but members of the board’s operations committee decided in September to wait to see if EHD was present in Will County before a final decision is made.

DeMauro said so far there have been no EHD cases reported, but the county won’t know for sure if the disease migrated here until colder temperatures kill the virus in mid-October.

The committee will make a decision on the culling program, which usually takes place from mid-December to mid-February, in November, she added.

No matter what the numbers show, no deer culling will take place in Messenger Woods or Messenger Marsh in Homer Township or Lockport Prairie. DeMauro said the district promised officials there that they wouldn’t do more culling until aerial photos could be taken to get a more accurate population count.

But the past winter was so warm, there wasn’t sufficient snow cover to get good photos, she explained.

There could be deer culling in six other preserves: Romeoville Prairie, McKinley Woods, Sand Ridge Savanna and Kankakee Sands, Goodenow Grove and Hickory Creek and Raccoon Grove.

The total number of deer recommended for removal in an August report was 217. Ninety-nine were culled last winter and 134 the year before, which was the first year for culling in Will County preserves. All of the culled deer were donated to the Northern Illinois Food Bank.

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