My finished Illinois DNR/CWD/Sharpshooting article.

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My finished Illinois DNR/CWD/Sharpshooting article.

Post  Ms Bucknut on Thu Apr 08, 2010 2:12 pm

Here's the finished product. It's turned in but my editor hasn't gotten a hold of it yet. So, I thought I'd post the original copy. Kind of interested to see how much the program is costing Illinois residents/hunters. Quite literally!
The Case of the Disappearing Deer Herd

Each year as October 1st approaches, Illinois’ bow hunters, male and female alike become fired up for the new archery season. Next in line are the gun hunters with high hopes that this will be their year. Thoughts may even become extravagant as they boast and brag to friends about the big buck they’ve captured on their trail cam and that “Big 10” is as good as on their wall.
Not as simple as it seems, but that’s hunting!
However, any hunter will tell you that this frenzied excitement isn’t completely lost to reality. No different than a pep talk before the big game, it’s a way for us to get pumped up and to inflate our confidence level for what is yet to come. Yet, the difficulty of the task at hand is not forgotten. It goes without saying. Deer hunting is not always easy. It doesn’t matter how much equipment you lug with you out to the stand or the amount of dough you pony up every year for the latest and greatest products. What’s meant to be will be and what’s not? Well, it won’t. Yet, the promise remains unsaid, but understood by all that if our season proves to be less than desirable, there will always be next year. That’s hunting!
The blame game
But, what if the outcome of our deer season no longer solely relies upon chance? What if there is another force working against our favor of harvesting a deer or two with the tag(s) that we’ve paid good money for? Talk about getting fired up!
2009 proved to be a great year for the record books, but Boone and Crockett and Pope and Young are not the only reasons most people hunt. It stands to reason that from season to season, results and harvest numbers will vary from county to county, but throughout the 2009/10 season, the same frustrating question came from across the state. Where are the deer?
It’s not only the drop in harvest numbers. It’s the lack of deer sightings in general that has left many hunters pondering.
So, where are the deer and why do they seem to be “disappearing”? It’s human nature to get lost in the blame game and I am no exception. Instead of allowing my anger to lead me down a dead end path of no return, I went searching for some answers that were backed with logic and good sense. It was a quickly executed trail that guided me straight to the Illinois DNR. The answers to my questions did not come easily.
CWD
Let’s not be hasty though, and take first things first. The first order of the day is the topic of Chronic Wasting Disease, otherwise known as CWD. CWD is a contagious neurological disease that affects deer, elk and moose. Symptoms include; staggering, an overly wide stance, drooling, weight loss and extreme thirst. Eventually, the animal succumbs to the loss of bodily functions and dies. There is no evidence that confirms that CWD can be contracted by humans at this time.
The first documented cases of CWD were found in captive mule deer in Colorado in the 1960’s. It is not fully understood how the disease is transmitted, but evidence supports that it not only spreads through direct animal to animal contact, but also through indirect causes, such as contaminated food and water sources. It is thought that the infectious prions that cause CWD are smaller than most viral molecules and do not summon the typical immune system response, which would be to get rid of the bacteria causing a particular virus. Therefore, CWD is presumed to be resistant to normal protocol that would typically break down an infection.
So, because this virus is extremely resistant, it can remain in contaminated areas for a very long time. It is unknown how long.
The incubation period is a minimum of 17 months, meaning that it takes this long for an animal to start showing clinical signs of the illness. The maximum is unknown. CWD affects both male and female but the majority of the animals infected are between 3-5 years of age. Once the clinical phase of the disease becomes obvious, it can last for days to a year but usually lasts several months.
There is no question that CWD is a miserably debilitating disease and any animal that contracts this fatal virus is in for much suffering. As hunters, the last thing we want to see or hear about is an affliction of this magnitude infecting the very animals that we strive to preserve through hunting and conservation management. However, in the same breath, most of us have no trouble admitting that sometimes one has to allow nature to run its course.
In November of 2002 the first official case of CWD in Illinois was discovered in Boone County. The IDNR quickly took matters and weapons into their own hands and since then, they haven’t looked back. The CWD Surveillance Management program was born. AKA: Sharpshooting.
In the winter of 2002-03, sharpshooting began as a means of experimental CWD control and the number of deer taken that first year was limited. The main focus was to try and understand the extent of the disease in the areas in which CWD was found.
Apparently, this experimental control has turned into a permanent plan of action. In addition to the surveillance (sharp shooting) program the first year, samples were also collected from hunter harvested deer and a few suspect deer but the majority of the excess samples were from deer shot through Deer Population Control Permits. The IDNR points out that while they issue the permits to various municipalities, the actual sharp shooting is performed by the agency’s own representatives.
The CWD Surveillance Management Program works like this:
About a week or so after the hunting season officially ends, the sharp shooting commences. Mostly done at night, sharp shooters hired by the IDNR work 4 nights a week for 2 ½ months. They take deer on a first-come, first-serve basis. When there are multiple deer in question, the only discrimination is that (1) adult deer are shot first; and (2) the easiest shots are taken first.
While the onset of CWD has made feeding or providing mineral supplements illegal for Illinois residents, ironically, this is the very method chosen by the IDNR to gain access to as many deer as possible in a single location. When asked about this, their reasons included that using bait piles allows them to control the zone of fire and to insure maximum safety.
Some may argue that this is counter-productive when attempting to combat CWD. If indeed a deer with CWD feeding off a certain bait pile is shot and collected, evidence shows that these extremely resistant bacteria can remain in the landscape where contaminated urine, feces and saliva have been secreted for an unknown amount of time.
Another question on the table awaiting an answer was whether or not all deer shot were collected and taken in for sampling. The IDNR stated that they do not leave dead deer on the property. All deer are field dressed and tissue samples are taken for analysis. All deer with negative CWD tests are donated to charitable institutions.
Matt James of Boone County sees things quite differently. Matt hunts a property in which the owner allowed the IDNR access to conduct their surveillance. The property owner was disgusted to find out too little too late that the deer were left to lay and rot on his land. He did not grant permission the following year.
A similar story comes from an archer from Winnebago County, who’s followed blood trails leading from IDNR bait sites only to find dead deer lying at the end of them. Again, the IDNR denies this.
How about the insurance companies? Is there collaboration between them and the IDNR? Is it possible that CWD isn’t the only motivation behind the sharp shooting program? The IDNR says no, that CWD is the only objective.
Coincidentally, since the curriculum began, deer vs. vehicle collisions are lower than they’ve been in a long time. And if this has no bearing on the sharp shooting program, then why are there graphs indicating the decline of deer related traffic accidents in the 2 007/08 CWD summary?
Who’s counting the costs but more importantly, who’s paying for them? In other words, does the end justify the means? As of March 3, 2010, there have been 285 documented cases of CWD in Illinois since November, 2002. There is no doubt that CWD is a terrible disease, but is it worth the amount the IDNR is spending? During the 2007-08 seasons, program costs alone totaled $1,084,129.90. Due to the fact that the IDNR submits bulk samples for testing, their negotiated rate is $12.50 per test. Multiply that by 7,758 (number of samples tested) and you can add $96,975.00 to the above number, totaling $1,181,104.90. The number of deer that tested positive was 38.
The 08/09 season added up to a little less but the price tag still came in at a whopping $1,088,867.60. The total amount of deer with CWD was 30.
Eight years in the running and the bottom line is that this program is costing a lot of money. Unfortunately, it’s money that could be spent elsewhere. It seems that every time we turn around, a new operation or facility is being cut, yet there are substantial fee increases. I personally, am not opposed to such fee hikes as long as they are helping to get the prairie state back on track after the complete discombobulating it suffered due to our previous legislation. I’m not sure that spending this kind of money year after year on CWD is the way to do it. This may sound harsh, but are 285 deer worth millions of dollars? Granted, taking those 285 deer out of the herd kept them from spreading the disease. Or did it? If the bacteria from those sick deer contaminated food and water sources, then the illness would have spread regardless of the tactical removal of the animal.
On pages 6 & 7 of the 2009 CWD report, (which is available for public viewing on the DNR website) it openly states that the reduction in deer harvest numbers is probably a direct result from more intensive management in recent years. And still, over 165,504 more permits were sold in the 2009-10 hunting season than in 2002. In fact, the above mentioned summary also discloses that the number of permit quotas far exceeded the actual number of permits sold for all gun seasons, (regular firearm, muzzleloader and youth firearm) and additional permits could be purchased if desired. Jake Reynolds, of Stephenson County would like to know if this is true, then why he was denied his muzzleloader tag that he sent in for, prior to the deadline. It simply doesn’t make sense.
So, we have less deer available but more permits sold. The state is broke, but millions are being spent on a program that is based on an awful lot of uncertainty, simply because there still isn’t enough scientific data on the disease to form concrete conclusions. What’s worse is that so much of the information residents receive from the IDNR is contradictory. It really is no wonder why the public gets upset.
I was told by the IDNR that the results of the program speak for themselves. The problem is that the IDNR boasts “their” program when in reality, more positive CWD samples have come from hunter harvested deer than from surveillance. I may be just a hunter from Illinois but I’d say that speaks volumes as well.
Just some food for thought; On the DNR’s website there is a link about a disease called “White Nose Syndrome” and it is killing our bats. It kind of makes one wonder if someday there might be an Illinois White Nose Syndrome Surveillance/Management Program! Hmmmm?

Ms Bucknut
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Re: My finished Illinois DNR/CWD/Sharpshooting article.

Post  Willy on Thu Apr 08, 2010 2:32 pm

Very Good young Lady.

I

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Re: My finished Illinois DNR/CWD/Sharpshooting article.

Post  shedaddict on Thu Apr 08, 2010 3:37 pm

Nice read Kerry?

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Re: My finished Illinois DNR/CWD/Sharpshooting article.

Post  bow_dad on Thu Apr 08, 2010 5:29 pm

Holy eye opener, crazy that you guys can't have feed or mineral sites over there but the DNR can use them for that. Makes me wonder if we have that sort of thing going on over here...?

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Re: My finished Illinois DNR/CWD/Sharpshooting article.

Post  Willy on Thu Apr 08, 2010 5:57 pm

Keep digging and you will be suprised at what you will find.

What do you guys think of when you hear CWD? Herds being wiped out, the entire states deer population desimated, etc. Kinda like Weapons of mass destruction, just saying the words gets everyone fired up.
Now try and find the science on CWD. Not the hypothetical, but the hard facts, proven scientific facts. If you can please let me know. If you look what you find are a bunch of biased studies with no real conclusions except for the ones that the groups who paid for the studies want out there.
Who really cares about CWD? I mean who are the first folks to come to arms about it, that are willing to do whatever it takes to make sure our deer herds are not wiped out? Obviiosly its the sportsman. Now who is the first to come to thier feet when the state starts talking about needing to reduce deer numbers for insurance reasons? Sportsman of course. So when you need to reduce numbers to make the largest lobby, largest financial contributor to our states politicians happy and your states sportsman are the group that has the most abjections to that reduction, How do you make them go along with the plan? You shout Weapons of Mass destruction, or CWD. You sell it as something that is in the sportsmans best interest. You may ask why would a biologist go along with something like that. Look at where your DNR comes from. Its a Commision, which means the officials that are part of it are not elected, they are appointed. Appointed by whom? By the ones who line thier pockets with contributions from the insurance companys who if left to thier wishes would have the deer in the state completly illiminated plain and simple.
Like I said, find the science. Find the real facts. The first thing I would say is to look at the number of deer each year that are killed by the state , and then look at the actuall CWD cases that have been reported and CONFIRMED. Some states will post SUSPected CWD Cases based on word of mouth symtoms, the actuall confirmation takes a lab test of the tissue. With the limited budgets states have now do you think they are really spending that money on lab test of deer? Heck most states cant afford to do proper autopsys of humans mush less a deer.
Find a proven study that shows feeding deer causes CWD. Truth is it cant. Any viral sickness can be spread by contact, you can give me your cold if you sneeze on me. But CWD must be present in your deer herd before it can be spread.
The state of Texas is a prime example. More high fence per acre than any other state. More Breeding farms that any other. THE number one highest deer populations in the states. 9.9 out of 10 land owners feed corn to thier deer. High fence, low fence, no fence, feeding is a way of life and has been done for generations. Anyone ever here of a CWD outbreak in Texas?

Its a Hoax in my opinion.

Sorry, I didnt mean to hijack your post. But you hit on something here that gets me fired up.

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Re: My finished Illinois DNR/CWD/Sharpshooting article.

Post  Willy on Thu Apr 08, 2010 6:21 pm

Here you go Ms. Kerry,

These are comments made to a Topeka Kansas Reporter by one of the states top biologist and head of Big game division.

"I guess I have less of a problem with baiting than I do with feeding," Fox said. "The distinction is bait is a relatively small amount, put out for a short period of time in order to potentially increase the harvest."

"Increased disease transmission, , ecological impacts, social, ethical and perception problems, legal and enforcement problems and even public safety concerns are all reasons cited as why it's not allowed". "But in a day and age where common sense biology often doesn't win out over common opinion, many states, including Kansas still allow it".




" when people feed deer in Kansas they often buy cheap feed that, in many cases, is unfit for livestock consumption."

"They get the seconds, the stuff with aflotoxins in it at levels that would not be allowed in a feedlot and they take it out and throw it in a big pile," Fox said.


But Fox says people putting it out don't realize some of the animals, birds like turkeys in particular, that came and fed on the toxic grain, wander off and die.

"They don't realize that some of the animals that came and fed aren't coming back," Fox said. "They're seeing new animals that are coming to the pile and they have killed animals as a result of that feeding operation."


I have highlighted three parts of his statements. The first one, well just read it. The last sentence is "in a day where common sense biology oftens dosent win out over common opinion" Excuse me?
again here are his reasons it should be banned ecological impacts, social, ethical and perception problems, legal and enforcement problems and even public safety concerns are all reasons cited as why it's not allowed". whats biological about any of those?

The statement about the "going to the local coop and buying feed not fit for livestock consumption" Again a lie. Find a coop that stores any "seconds" of feed that is not fit for consumption" Do you think a coop stores corn seperate for deer hunters? Give me a break. Its the same stuff that they sell to feed cattle. Antifloxions come with moldy grain and moldy grain is not stored in a coop.
And the last statement, again I have to reference the great state of Texas. What a joke. But these are the people that carry the titles and that are supossed to be looking out for the wildlife. BS

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Re: My finished Illinois DNR/CWD/Sharpshooting article.

Post  Ms Bucknut on Fri Apr 09, 2010 11:36 am

You didn't hijack my post Willy. I'm always interested to hear what others think. I do believe that CWD is real but I don't believe for one second that it is the reason for this sharp shooting program! Like I said in my article, the DNR is spending a whole lot of money on a disease that isn't backed with very much concrete information. There are too many assumptions and what ifs.

When I asked the DNR about baiting and told them that I found it to be extremely counter productive in combating CWD this is what they said...
"Our sharpshooters work 4 nights a week for 2 1/2 months, and through this level of effort, we believe that most deer using a specific bait pile are taken. We have to balance the cost:benefit ratio of any technique used, but we believe the benefits of using bait under these circumstances outweigh the potential risk of disease spread. Analysis of 5 years of data have shown decreases in CWD in those areas in which sharpshooting have been employed."
[color=green]
But then you look at the reports and find the # of deer taken per section. It might have only been 1 or 2 deer taken from a section. There is no possible way for them to monitor this.
Another thing is that I just simply didn't have room for in my article is that the DNR makes it sound like the sharpshooters are trained snipers, when in reality they are hunters who do it as a side job and are probably sworn to secrecy.
If the insurance companies have nothing to do with it then why are there insurance salesman on the Deer Population Task Force??

I also believe that these special Deer Population Control Permits are total BS! The DNR hands them out and that's where their involvement stops. These municipalities then hire their own "sharpshooters" and it's a free for all. There is no limit on the number of deer they're allowed to take.

I agree Willy. Do some digging and you'll turn up all kinds of good stuff that isn't actually so good! Thanks for your info and insight! Much appreciated!

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Re: My finished Illinois DNR/CWD/Sharpshooting article.

Post  BuckRubIL on Fri Apr 09, 2010 11:54 am

Yup, it's an ugly state we live in. I've done some research on this before and knew we were pissing away tons of $$$ on it. Makes me sick Evil or Very Mad

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