MARION, IL -
A smaller deer herd could mean fewer hunters and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources is awaiting data that could end some hunters seasons before they even get started.
Over the last couple of years Illinois deer hunters have noticed a disturbing trend.
"I did see deer like I normally see every year, but this year it was a little different," said hunter Terry Story.
An Illinois Department of Natural Resources spokesman says Story isn't alone.
"The number of deer harvested every year has been going down, but last year the drop was a little bit more than usual and we lost about 20% in the firearm season," said IDNR spokesman Chris Young.
While state conservation efforts are responsible for part of the decline in numbers, diseases like EHD are ravaging many deer populations.
"It's an outbreak that happens from time to time and we've had two outbreaks in a row," said Young. "It's usually very localized but it can be pretty startling especially in years in drought people tend to find more deer and it seems pretty alarming."
With deer herd numbers dwindling Illinois is considering limiting the number of late winter firearm permits.
"We want to make sure that hunters who want to hunt can have a chance to hunt in the county of their choice," said Young. "Our biologists can reign things in when they feel its necessary"
Young says that he expects the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to have their final decision on hunting quotas and the future of the late winter firearm season sometime this summer.
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