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IL Deer Harvest Largely Unaffected by Drought

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One thing the ongoing drought did not seem to affect was the number of deer in Illinois. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources said hunters killed nearly 181-thousand deer, only one thousand less than one year ago.

The department’s Paul Shelton said the state tries to keep the deer population below what the environment can support, which means the animals are not affected as much by factors such as drought.

"The numbers of deer that we can support has to take into account the number (of deer) people would like to have in addition to making sure that it's below the level that biological stressors come into play," Shelton said.

Shelton added that the drought might have affected deer populations in isolated areas by reducing the amount of food or by causing outbreaks of hemorrhagic disease.  The disease is spread by gnats which thrive in pools and in mud flats that often come along with drought conditions.

Shelton said that the the deer harvest is affected by so many factors including the number of hunters, and hunting conditions that it's hard to point to specific reasons that the harvest goes up or down.

The largest deer harvest was in Pike County.  Fulton County placed second in the state and Adams was third.

Scott Stuntz is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.