The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County is working with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to further test for chronic wasting disease after a deer was found to have the illness in the District’s Mallard Lake Forest Preserve in Hanover Park.
“There is no threat to the public’s health or safety,” said the Forest Preserve District’s ecologist Brian Kraskiewicz. “However we’ll be working with the IDNR to test additional deer to determine if this was an anomaly or if there is an issue among the herd.”
Kraskiewicz said that the Forest Preserve District’s deer management program already helps control the transmission of diseases such as CWD. Last year the District culled 250 deer as part of that program, with 85 tested according to IDNR standards. CWD was found in one deer and because of that finding, another 20 deer will be culled over the next three weeks from Mallard Lake and Hawk Hollow Forest Preserve, which borders Mallard Lake also in Hanover Park.
“We need to know whether this is an isolated occurrence or an indication that the disease might be established at a low level of prevalence in this area of the county,” said IDNR project manager Marty Jones. “That’s why IDNR is recommending increasing disease surveillance.”
All culled animals will be picked up by the IDNR and transported to processing facilities for further testing.
The Forest Preserve District’s deer management program also provides for deer meat to be harvested and processed. The meat is then placed in freezers until testing is completed. If results for CWD are negative, the meat is then donated to a food bank for distribution. If results are positive for CWD, the meat is then incinerated.
CWD is a progressive neurological disease that affects elk, deer and moose and was first detected in Illinois’ Boone County in 2002. There have been 372 positive results found in 11 Northern Illinois counties since. This is the first CWD case in DuPage County.
Established in 1915, the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County manages over 25,000 acres of prairies, woodlands and wetlands. Each year, over 4.3 million visitors enjoy the District’s 60 forest preserves, 145 miles of trails, five education centers, and scores of scheduled programs and events.