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Will County Forest Preserve District Board OKs more deer culling

Updated: October 16, 2013 6:48AM



JOLIET — The Will County Forest Preserve District Board has approved another round of deer culling this winter, voting 20-2 on Thursday to allow sharpshooters to thin herds in seven preserves.

The preserves are Romeoville Prairie (including Isle a la Cache), Lockport Prairie, McKinley Woods, Kankakee Sands Geologic Area (including Sand Ridge Savanna, Braidwood Dunes and Savanna), Goodenow Grove, Hickory Creek and Raccoon Grove.

District director Marcy DeMauro said the most complaints by far about deer have come from residents near Hickory Creek Preserve.

“They see a lot of deer out in the road and deer eating vegetation that they planted,” she said.

While the culling program was controversial when first proposed in 2010, there was no discussion at Thursday’s board meeting before the vote. Board members Steve Balich and Mike Fricilone, both Homer Glen Republicans, were the only “no” votes.

After the meeting, Fricilone said he voted against the program because the Homer Glen residents he represents are against it, even though there will be no deer killed in preserves near the village this winter.

Board member Dave Izzo (R-Tinley Park) said reducing the deer population in the preserves is a necessary evil to prevent deer from dying from a lack of food and disease.

“Nobody likes it, but it’s got to be done,” he said.

In 2010, the county board studied and debated deer culling at length before going ahead with its initial program. Former board member Kathleen Konicki, of Homer Glen, was the most vocal opponent, but she lost her bid for re-election in the March 2012 primary election.

Now that the board has OKd the program, DeMauro said the forest preserve district will apply to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources for the necessary permits. She said deer culling will probably begin in mid-December and last for 90 days.

Also Thursday, the county board agreed to spend $2.5 million to acquire 326 acres near Romeoville that the county leased previously from the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District. The property, which includes the Centennial Trail, stretches along both sides of the Des Plaines River from 135th Street to the county line.

The MWRD started selling land it no longer needed about five years ago, and Will County’s forest preserve district has now purchased 690 acres, including Thursday’s acquisition, DeMauro said. She said the land will be added to the Romeoville Prairie and Keepataw preserves.

The forest preserve district decided to buy the property when the MWRD began selling mineral rights under its land, which could have led to an expansion of a nearby quarry, DeMauro explained.

“We were very concerned about the impacts to the wetlands and hydrology out there,” she said.

Now that the forest district owns the land, it may add another trail on the west side of the Des Plaines River, DeMauro said.

“We are terribly excited,” she said. “This literally connects all of our properties north of 135th Street along the river. So all the gaps that we had are now filled in, and that’s been a long-term goal.”



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