Illinois deer: Watching Wisconsin & Walker

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The antics of Wisconsin’s new governor,

Gov. Scott Walker, could spill over and impact Illinois outdoors.

Illinois Department of Natural Resources officials in Springfield are watching what is happening in Wisconsin, particularly in regard to responses to chronic wasting disease.

“There are a lot of issues with the deer herd,” IDNR director Marc Miller said a wide-ranging interview yesterday afternoon. “We are going to take a new assessment, especially with CWD. We need to take into account what the new administration in Wisconsin is going to do or not do.”

If Wisconsin officials are not going to step up and scientifically respond to CWD on their side of the state line, the upstream side of the river corridors, then Illinois will have to make adjustments to its CWD response, particularly around the state line.

“This is where politics needs to be limited in its impact on decisions,” Miller said. “Decisions need to be based on science. . . . You have to have professionals making the decisions.”

This subject is one of Miller’s hot-button issues. And I think he is generally right on that.

He is also correct when he said it is “generally recognized that Illinois’ scientific approach [to CWD] is the most effective method.” He reiterated that decisions on deer, and other wildlife issues, must be made for scientific reasons, not political ones.

All the same, there is a political juggling act with regard to the deer herd that goes beyond science. And it is a battle or tug-of-war I expect to continue as long as I live.

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