Wildlife Damage Management, Internet Center for


Date of this Version

October 2000


State wildlife agencies often find themselves between hunters and landowners in managing white-tailed deer. During 1999 the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) restricted archery deer harvest in a 5-county region of East-central Illinois to antlered deer only during the first month of the season. Restrictions were due to declining deer populations and increased archery harvest in the 5-county zone. Hunters in adjacent Shelby County claimed they were seeing fewer deer and lobbied both the IDNR and state legislators for inclusion in the restricted zone during the fall 2000 hunting season. We conducted a telephone survey of resident archery deer hunters (n=217) and landowners (n=409) in Shelby County during November 1999 to determine attitudes toward the deer population and management options. Hunters and landowners differed significantly in their perceptions of deer abundance (P < 0.000). A majority of hunters (52%) reported seeing fewer deer compared to recent hunting seasons. Most landowners (46%) preferred the IDNR change regulations to allow increased harvest; 43% were satisfied with current regulations, and 12% favored regulations restricting harvest. Most landowners responded they experienced crop damage from deer during 1999. Landowner attitudes proved to be a deciding factor in policy discussions on expanding the 5-county restricted zone.