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Management of white-tailed deer in Chicago, Illinois forest preserves

  • Author(s): Etter, Dwayne R.
  • Van Deelen, Timothy R.
  • Ludwig, Daniel R.
  • Kobal, Scott N.
  • Warner, Richard E.
  • et al.
Abstract

The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County culled 2,826 white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), from 16 forest preserves in winters 1992-1998, including 1,786 from the 10 km2 Waterfall Glen Preserve. Methods of culling included sharpshooting or capture with a rocket-net followed by euthanasia via a penetrating captive bolt. Operational field costs were $119 to $310/deer. Population reconstructions indicated a decrease in deer population density at Waterfall Glen Preserve from 751 deer in 1992 to 55 deer in 1998. This reduction resulted in a significant decrease (r=0.9, P=0.001, n=7) in reported deer-vehicle collisions on adjacent roads from 30 in 1992 to 4 in 1998. Mean plant height, percent vegetative ground cover, and number of plant species increased (P< 0.0001) among years in six forest preserves experiencing deer population control. Culling was successful at reducing deer population density, decreasing deer-vehicle collisions, and assisting with the restoration of native ecosystems in DuPage County Forest Preserves.

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