After a deer culled in December tested positive for chronic wasting disease, the board of commissioners for the Forest Preserve District of Will County took action to help fight the spread of the disease.
The board's Feb. 13 action comes after a tissue sample taken from a deer culled on Dec. 10 at the district’s Kankakee Sands Preserve tested positive for the disease.
As a result of the positive test, the first in Will County, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) asked the district to cull an additional 20 deer from Kankakee Sands Preserve and adjacent preserves located south of Route 113 and west of the Kankakee River.
On Thursday, the board unanimously approved a resolution that complies with the IDNR request.
All deer culled in the District’s Deer Management Program are tested for the disease. If the additional deer culled at IDNR’s request test negative for the disease, the meat will be sent to a processor and then on to a food bank, which is what happens with all the meat from the District’s culling program. If deer test positive for the disease, the meat will be disposed of.
IDNR will pay for the meat processing or disposal, according to Marcy DeMauro, the District’s Executive Director. IDNR also will be culling deer on property it owns at the adjacent Wilmington Shrub Prairie. IDNR’s management protocol when a tissue sample results in a positive finding for Chronic Wasting Disease is to remove more deer from the area to maintain deer herd health and reduce the spread of the degenerative neural disease, which is 100 percent fatal.
The District’s Deer Management Program was approved by the Board of Commissioners in 2010.
Deer were culled from Will County preserves in 2010-2011, 2011-2012 and 2013-2014. No deer were removed in 2012-2013. The district uses sharpshooters to cull the deer and the unit includes District police officers and volunteers who are certified annually by IDNR.
The District’s original 2013-2014 plan called for 21 deer to be culled from the Kankakee Sands area. District biologists estimate that removal of the additional 20 deer will result in approximately 23 deer per square mile in the Kankakee Sands area, which meets the District’s Deer Management Program goal of maintaining a range of 20 to 30 deer per square mile.
From 2003 to 2013, 408 cases of Chronic Wasting Disease were detected in Illinois deer. While some cases have been in reported in counties adjacent to Will County, most were reported in northwestern Illinois with the bulk being in Boone and Winnebago counties.