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County agrees to improve deer culling method

April 15, 2000

The Daily Herald (Chicago area)

By Laurie Aucoin

After repeated pleas to Lake County Forest Preserve officials to own up to what they say was an irresponsible and unethical deer shooting at the Ryerson preserve, wildlife activists got a piece of what they have been looking for Friday.

Members of the forest preserves' finance committee decided the forest preserve needs to adopt a better system of checks and balances when sharpshooters, hired by the forest preserves are culling deer.

"I believe in the culling of deer, but not in animals suffering," said committee member Sandy Cole of Grayslake. "I believe in having a spotter for every shooter."

This move assuaged the group – but only somewhat.

"It's a starting point," said Greg Campbell, one of the activists.

However, Campbell and the small band of others who spoke during Friday's committee meeting said they didn't get all the answers they were seeking, specifically the identify of the forest preserves employee who they say shot a deer the night of Feb. 14 but did not kill it.

"We are still aiming for the truth. I am so tired of cover-ups and lies," said Davida Terry, a longtime animal activist. "I want someone held accountable for this."

When Campbell and activist Steve Hindi, in the preserve at the time, spotted the wounded deer leaning against a tree Feb. 15, they say it bolted and they could not find it.

On Friday, Steven Messerli, the preserves executive director, asked why the two did not alert park rangers at the time.

After the meeting, Terry said "every time I have contacted the forest preserve with an issue contrary to something the staff has done, I have been ridiculed."

Martha Marks, head of the finance committee, noted the forest preserve board has been dealing with aspects of the deer culling program for about a decade. What the activists brought to the table Friday goes beyond the Feb. 14 incident, she said This is just one criticism of the way the forest preserve controls its deer populations.

Messerli pointed out deer control decisions are based on the number of deer found at three preserves.

"Only when it's overpopulated do we do it," Messerli said. "We don't shoot at every preserve every year."