|| The Forest Preserve District's Deer Management Program will take place in nine preserves this winter.
The nine sites are: Goodenow Grove Nature Preserve in Crete Township, Hickory Creek Preserve in New Lenox and Mokena, Lockport Prairie Nature Preserve in Lockport Township, Lockport Prairie East Preserve in Lockport, McKinley Woods in Channahon, Prairie Bluff Preserve in Crest Hill, Raccoon Grove Nature Preserve in Monee Township, Romeoville Prairie Nature Preserve in Romeoville and Thorn Creek Woods Nature Preserve in Park Forest.
The District's Board of Commissioners approved the 2016-2017 deer management program during its September 8 meeting. The program is scheduled to begin in early to mid-December and end in late February, but the exact dates will depend on the timing of an Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) permit and winter weather conditions.
The District's goal is to reach a deer population level of 20 to 30 deer per square mile. The 2016-2017 plan calls for the removal of a total of 200 deer.
The District uses sharpshooters to cull the deer, and the unit includes District police officers and volunteers who are certified annually by IDNR. Culling operations occur at dusk when the preserves are closed. Signs will be posted at the entrance to the preserve when sharpshooting activities are scheduled to occur. Culled deer will be field dressed and the meat will be donated to local food pantries, according to IDNR regulations.
The Districtís Deer Management Program began in 2010. The program was created to deal with overbrowsing damage caused by high density levels of white-tailed deer, which threaten the well-being of the District's woodlands, savannas and prairies, as well as the health of the deer themselves and other animal species. Excessive overbrowsing reduces plant and animal diversity. Proactive management assists in maintaining the ecological balance of natural areas.