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Fewer are encountering a deer in headlights

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Updated: December 6, 2013 6:02AM

This is one of those times people need to be on the lookout for deer as they drive about their business.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources should be releasing last year’s deer-collision numbers very soon.

The trend has been good news.

Accidents involving deer were responsible for six fatalities in 2011, a decrease from 10 fatalities in 2010. Injuries because of an accident involving a deer decreased from 634 in 2010 to 613 in 2011. I’m guessing that trend may continue into 2012.

The actual number of accidents did go up slightly in 2011 to 18,039 while the year before, there were 17,135. In 2009, there were 18,849. Watch it in rural areas because three of four crashes involving deer occur on rural roads and 71 percent happen at twilight.

While we wait for the state’s new numbers for 2012, State Farm Insurance released a report that shows there has been a nationwide decline in deer collisions, including in Illinois. Your chances of colliding with a deer is about 10 percent in Illinois and it went from being 30th to 32nd place on the state list for most accidents per car on the road. To say it another way, drivers have a 1-in-214 chance of hitting a deer compared to last year’s 1-in-162 chance. May the odds be with you.

To see more of their report to go:

And just so you know, when the 2011 figures were released last year, Lake County ranked ninth in deer collisions with 360. Cook County was tops with 554.

And if you’re a resident of Illinois and kill a deer with your car, you can claim the deer for food within 24 hours by going on online at or by calling (217) 782-6431 before 4:30 p.m. the next business day. If any part of the deer is going to be taken to a taxidermist or tannery, the person making the report is required to request a tag at the time of the report.

And the last of the numbers I collected that fascinate me are these:Last year in Lake County, six bucks and two does were harvested during the firearm season and 242 bucks and 181 does were harvested during the archery season for an archery total of 423. A total of 431 were harvested by hunters. There were 360 hit by cars in the county. Just something to mull over.

Deer disease

Chronic wasting disease in Illinois deer has not been as bad as it was last year, according to the state.

An outbreak of Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease has taken a total of 403 deer in 51 counties since Sept. 30. At the same time last year, there were 2,043 deer reported as probable EHD deaths from 76 counties.

EHD is a viral disease, spread by biting gnats, which can cause high fever and severe internal bleeding in deer. While often fatal to deer, EHD is not hazardous to humans or pets. EHD-like symptoms in cattle have been reported where EHD has been confirmed in deer. Cattle can be successfully treated with medications.

The heaviest-hit Illinois counties in 2013 include Woodford (68), Jo Daviess (64), Pike and Adams (35 and 29, respectively), as well as Fulton (32). Of interest is the fact that the hardest-hit counties from last year (Cook, Macon, Shelby, Coles, and Calhoun) are reporting little if any EHD this year, a result of resistance to the disease within the local deer populations that results from exposure to the virus.

The disease was first identified in 1955 in Michigan and New Jersey. EHD and a similar disease known as blue-tongue are regular events in the southern United States. The neighboring states of Missouri and Iowa are also reporting EHD-related deer mortalities this year.

Hunters and landowners who find sick or dead deer that they suspect may have resulted from EHD are asked to contact their nearest IDNR field office to make a report. Discoveries of EHD-related deer mortality may also be reported to Doug Dufford, IDNR Wildlife Disease and Invasive Species program manager, at (815) 535-2875 or at

Include a name and contact phone number as well as the county, number of dead deer, sex, and specific location of the deer (distance/direction from the nearest town or intersection of two roads).

See the tamaracks

The park in Ingleside just off Route 12 is where tamaracks, which are Christmas trees, do something no others do: they shed their leaves like a regular tree. This weekend is the peak for their strange browness before they shed completely, according to park officials.

Retirees might want to consider a work day, this coming Thursday, from 9:30 a.m. to noon at the North Bench Overlook Project, and take in the tamaracks. Officials say you get a healthy workout, enjoy fresh air and help restore our environment. Brush cutting is on the agenda at the NBO Project on a hill overlooking Volo Bog.

Team Leaders are Neil Whitman and John Katzenmayer.

Visit Chipmunk Woods

Families may want to look at Nov. 10 or 24, both Sundays, for a habitat project at Chipmunk Woods at Volo Bog between 10:30 a.m. and noon, but kids should be 7-years-old or older.

“Chipmunk Woods Workdays are family-friendly restoration fun! Spend autumn mornings cutting brush in this Leave No Child Inside outdoor classroom. Then, stay a while longer to explore and play,” urges Stacy Iwanicki, IDNR employee and team leader.

Please dress for the weather and bring drinking water and comfortable work gloves to protect from thorny branches.

Reservations are requested at (815) 344-1294 or

Walk-ins are welcome but the session may be cancelled if minimum registration is not met 24 hours prior to the event.

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