THOMSON, Ill. — For the first time in over four years, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources will speak directly to hunters about a deadly disease infecting deer and elk — chronic wasting disease.
The first meeting on Monday, Sept. 12, is one of five the IDNR will host throughout the state. Monday’s meeting is at 7 p.m. at the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge in Thomson, Illinois.
A list of all the sessions is towards the bottom of this article. All start at 7 p.m. unless noted otherwise.
The IDNR hasn’t met with hunters in over four years to talk about CWD, but the number of infected animals has increased 3-4% in just two years.
From 2002 to 2021, IDNR reported 141,074 deer were tested for CWD and 1,165 tested positive. Wildlife Disease and Invasive Species Program Manager Chris Jacques with IDNR said those numbers have increased to over 150,000 for testing and 1,380 for positives.
"So relatively low prevalence rates," Jacques said. "It could be a lot worse."
In Wisconsin, according to Jacques, the state is seeing 40-50% of its older aged bucks infected with CWD. Now, its hunters are coming to Illinois to hunt healthy deer.
Although CWD hasn't been reported in humans, officials want hunters to stay safe and help stop the spread.
CWD affects the central nervous system and eats at the brain.
“In clinical stages of infection they become very unaware of their surroundings and wander around, droop their heads, be very lethargic and just unresponsive to the presence of anything that they would perceive as a as a threat,” Jacques said.
The CDC says do not shoot or eat deer and elk meet you think is infected. They advise hunters to wear gloves when dressing deer and to bring the them to a check station to be tested.
Here's when the rest of the scheduled educational sessions are:
- Tuesday, Sept. 13, Pontiac Township High School, 1100 E. Indiana Ave., Pontiac.
- Monday, Sept. 19, Starved Rock State Park Visitors Center, 2668 E. 873 Road, Oglesby.
- Wednesday, Sept. 21, Des Plaines Conservation Area, 30550 S. Boathouse Road, Wilmington.
- Saturday, Oct. 15 at 1 p.m., Stockton Township Library, 140 W. Benton Ave., Stockton.
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