Illinois: Forest preserve commission OKs pilot deer bow hunting program


YORKVILLE – A pilot bow hunting program to help monitor and control chronic wasting disease, or CWD, in area white-tailed deer has been approved by Kendall County forest preserve officials.

The Kendall County forest preserve commission voted, 9-0, to approve the pilot bow hunting program in the county during the commission meeting Tuesday, Oct. 1. Commissioner Tony Giles was absent from the meeting.

According to forest preserve documents, the program will take a maximum of 60 participants on a first come, first serve and there will be a $200 non-refundable program application fee. Participants will need to have the proper hunting licenses through the state in order to participate in the program.

Guritz said the program will be open to only Kendall County residents and the bow hunting will only be allowed in non-publicly accessible forest preserve areas. Those preserves include Fox River Bluffs, Pickerill-Pigott, Henneberry, Hollenback and Millbrook North.

Guritz said the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, or IDNR, has previously identified CWD positive deer near the district’s Hoover and Baker Woods forest preserves. Those two preserves will not be part of the pilot program.

“Part of this is, for us, to get experience for managing program like this,” which is why the forest preserve district would be using preserves that are not open to public for the pilot program, Guritz said.

Guritz said the IDNR will collect samples from all deer hunted through the pilot program.

“The state gets that part of the deer that they need to be able to test for CWD” and the hunter gets to keep the rest of the deer, Guritz said.

According to IDNR, chronic wasting disease is caused by a prion, or abnormal protein, and causes neurological damage to deer, elk, moose and caribou. The contagious disease, which does not have a cure, causes the animal to eventually display abnormal behavior, weight loss and will lose control of normal bodily functions.

The vote comes after sharpshooting through the IDNR was not permitted at forest preserves previously. Guritz said it hasn’t been allowed previously because the commission felt it wasn’t an appropriate activity to have in the preserves.

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Guritz said local hunters were critical of IDNR sharpshooters possibly being allowed at the forest preserves, since they themselves weren’t allowed to shoot on the property. He said the hunters expressed that, if the forest preserve was going to support data collection and diseased deer population management, the district should let local hunters harvest the deer.

Commissioner Scott Gryder said the bow hunting will be allowed from Nov. 1, 2019 through Jan. 19, 2020 in accordance with IDNR archery deer hunting rules and regulations.

“We have heard this for years, that there’s an interest in some kind of program like this in the county,” Gryder said.

Guritz said application materials will be posted online at, with hard copies available on Oct. 15 at the District’s main office, 110 W. Madison St. He said the forest preserve will accept applications through Oct. 23.

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