Illinois Hunters and Game Officials Clash Over CWD Management

By Hunting NetworkJuly 5, 2012

LAST UPDATED: May 1st, 2015

It’s no secret that Illinois hunters annualy harvest some of the biggest bucks on the planet, but deer hunters in the Land of Lincoln are asking state officials for a more expanded role in Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) management.  Unforunately, the two sides aren’t exactly seeing eye-to-eye.  Here’s why.


To curb the chronic wasting disease (CWD) outbreak in Illinois, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (DNR) hired sharpshooters to reduce the deer population. While hunters in Illinois are happy about the effort, the fact that hunters were not offered a chance to assist the DNR at no cost to the state has some sportsmen questioning the wisdom of the move.

Regional Director of the Illinois Bowhunters Society Jim McFarlane and other hunters would like the state to let the hunters be their shooting team, rather than the hired sharpshooters.

“We want hunters to go in first. If they can’t get the job done then let sharpshooters take over,” McFarlane said to Petersen’s Hunting. “A lot of the sharpshooting efforts are taking place in forest preserves and parks that don’t allow hunting. That’s their excuse. Why can’t they let us in? Someone is going to be killing deer. Our taxpayer money is going to this when we could be doing it for free.”

Illinois DNR CWD

Since control efforts were undertaken in 2003, nearly 11,000 deer in 10 CWD-affected counties have been taken, with 1,475 of those deer taken by sharpshooters over the past winter. That’s up to 28 percent of the deer population in those 10 counties taken by sharpshooters.
Additionally, the culling is not leaving many for the hunters to take. ”I hunted every day for 11 days straight and never saw a single deer,” McFarlane reported to Petersen’s Hunting. Jim Herkert is the Director of Resource Conservation for the DNR. He said fewer deer is just one of the consequences of trying to control the spread of CWD among the ungulate population. Aiding sharpshooting efforts that lead to the decreasing deer population are a number of measures that include relaxed bag limits, which allowed hunters to take an unlimited number of antlerless deer during archery season.

Dave Wiehle, a hunter from northern Illinois, has become an outspoken critic of the DNR’s management, even going so far as to call the agency’s culling efforts “mass murder.”


What’s your opinion, fellow deer hunter?  Do you agree with how Illinois has handled the CWD outbreak, or should hunters have more of a say-so in the process?  Login to our forum or our Facebook page and let us know what you think!

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