Animal rights activists and Lake County Forest Preserve District officials locked horns Tuesday over a sharpshooter's alleged wounding of a deer in Ryerson Woods.
Forest preserve board President Carol Calabresa of Libertyville said marksmen killed four deer as part of a sanctioned culling program of the Deerfield-area woods on the day in question, Feb. 15 and did not leave any wounded.
But activists from the Geneva-based Showing Animals Respect and Kindness claim a doe was shot and left to suffer. They contend an errant forest district sharpshooter was at fault for not following the deer and finishing the job.
Activists Steve Hindi of Geneva and Greg Campbell of Barrington said they visited Ryerson the morning of Feb. 15 and found a bloody trail that led them to a wounded doe resting against a fallen tree. They said the animal scampered away as they approached, possibly after it applied pressure to the bullet wound to stem the bleeding.
Lincolnshire resident Donald Terry presented the forest board with enlarged pictures of what he said was a trail of the deer's blood on snow in the woods. A pool of blood was not far from a deer-shooting blind, he said.
None of the activists presented a photograph or videotaped the allegedly wounded deer.
Donald Terry's wife, Davida, later played an audiotape recording of a deer shooting in a DuPage County forest preserve. Board members heard a gunshot followed by what purportedly was a whimpering, dying deer.
"We're talking about guns. They're shooting things. They should be able to hit the target," Hindi said of the county's marksmen.
Calabresa ripped the activists for trying to create controversy where none exists by bringing the deer wounding allegations to the media before contacting forest preserve officials.
"We understand and appreciate that Davida Terry, Steve Hindi and their fellow animal rights extremists do not agree with all of our efforts to restore and maintain habitats in our forest preserves," said Calabresa, reading from a prepared statement.
Davida Terry asked the board to consider replacing deer shoots with wildlife contraception. Calabresa said Lake County will use contraception to reduce deer populations in forest preserves when it's deemed scientifically sound and effective.
If an injured deer left a bloody trail Feb. 15, said Calabresa, it probably was because of a vehicle accident, illegal hunting or another cause. She said the forest district's staff would immediately respond to a report of a wounded deer.
"Somebody's covering it up," said Campbell. "Somebody's saying it didn't happen."
Campbell said he and Hindi were at Ryerson Woods to locate deer shooting blinds when they stumbled upon the blood.
Lake County controls the deer population in an attempt to preserve and restore habitats for other animals and plants, said Calabresa.