A decline in seasonal harvest numbers has sparked the need for change in deer management across Illinois.
A recent Outdoor News piece focused on the impending changes, mentioning the "subtle hints" that indicate a need for new deer management processes.
"Once all deer seasons are complete, our biologists will evaluate deer management goals on a county-by-county basis to achieve stability in our deer herd," said Department of Natural Resources director Marc Miller in the article. Specifics weren't mentioned, but a shift in strategy is nearly inevitable.
A total of 74,191 deer have been taken during the Illinois firearm season, down by around 25 percent from last year's total of 99,546. This year's numbers were below 80,000 for the first time since 1990.
The state record firearms harvest occurred in 2005, when 123,792 deer were taken by hunters in Illinois.
Check out another featured article focusing on the decline in deer harvests.
No single reason has been given as to why the numbers have fallen. "Clearly this year's preliminary firearm harvest numbers are below previous seasons, and while bad weather conditions throughout the state played a role, it cannot be the only factor," Miller said. Responses from hunters have indicated that bad weather didn't necessarily keep them out of the woods.
The DNR intends on using biologists to analyze county data, hunter surveys and feedback from past open house forums to figure out what kind of changes need to be made.
State archery season continues through January 19, 2014, and a late-winter firearms antlerless-only season and special Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) season that runs Dec. 26-29 and Jan. 17-19, 2014.