Deer hunting in Fayette County has been affected by recent changes approved by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
Fayette County was one of 20 counties removed from the late-winter antlerless hunting season in changes to the 2014-15 deer hunting season announced last Tuesday by IDNR Director Marc Miller. Bond and Clinton counties were also removed from the list.
Additional changes also came in the number of firearm permits available in some counties. Fayette County’s permit numbers were not affected.
Changes are recommended to the IDNR by biologists who review harvest numbers, deer-vehicle accident data, a survey of Illinois hunters, hemorrhagic disease reports and other factors.
“Solid science is the basis of our deer program,” Miller said. “These changes reflect our commitment to professional management of the state’s deer population to provide recreational opportunity while being mindful of public safety and the rights of property owners.”
Late-winter antlerless season remains open in Clay, Effingham, Marion, Montgomery and Shelby counties.
In 2008, the IDNR began using trends in the rate of deer-vehicle accidents (DVA) as an index of deer population status in each county, and adopted a specific objective for each county based on accident rates.
Those initial objectives for each county were set at the point halfway between the lowest and highest rates occurring in that county between 1994 and 2007.
IDNR’s statewide target called for a 14 percent reduction in accident rate from the peak observed in 2003, but individual goals – and the changes needed to reach them – varied widely by county.
That statewide goal was first reached in 2012, but some counties still remain above goal, prompting the IDNR to raise the goal in 41 counties in February.
“In order to be effective, Illinois’ deer management program adapts as new information is learned, as problems arise, or as public perception and tolerance changes,” said Paul Shelton, IDNR Forest Wildlife Program Manager.
The number of firearm permits has been reduced in some counties, but Fayette County has maintained its allotment of 2,950 either-sex permits and 1,950 antlerless-only permits.
Bond County will experience a drop of 100 permits in each category. Shelby County faces a drop of 100 either-sex permits, while Clinton County is losing 150 either-sex permits and 200 antlerless permits.
No changes to permits were made in Clay, Effingham or Marion counties.
Statewide, the number of either-sex permits was reduced by 4,925, and antlerless-only permits were reduced by 6,375.
The 11,300 permits amount to a reduction of about 4.1 percent.
Last year, 277,585 firearm permits were available, compared with 266,285 for the upcoming season. Quota reductions begin immediately, and will affect the second firearm lottery.
According to IDNR research, deer-vehicle accidents are an accurate barometer of Illinois deer population trends.
The DVA rate in 2013 was similar to 2012, even though deer harvest numbers declined from 180,811 in 2012 to 148,614 in 2013.
Poor weather conditions during the firearm seasons probably affected both hunter participation and success rates, and recent hemorrhagic disease outbreaks likely had at least localized effects.
In 2013, the DVA rate of 145.3 accidents per billion miles driven was down slightly from 148.3 in 2012.
With a few exceptions, counties that stay below their DVA goal for two consecutive years are removed from the late-winter season.
Fayette County’s goal had been 333.6. In 2012, its rate was 300.9, and in 2013, the rate was 324.1.
Since 1989, Fayette County’s highest rate was 445.3 in 2002, and its lowest was 222 in 1995.
The adjusted goal for Fayette County in 2014 is 359.5. Fayette County exceeded that number every year from 2001-2011.
Bond County saw its goal increase from 339 to 346.7, Clinton County increased from 227.3 to 267.6, Effingham County increased from 275.4 to 278.2 and Marion County increased from 428 to 433.1.
Goals in Clay and Shelby counties remained the same, at 666.3 and 587.6, respectively.
More information can be found at www.dnr.illinois.gov/hunting/deer.