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Homer Glen residents will have their say on deer culling on March 20

Homer Glen residents will have the chance to weigh in at the ballot booth on the issue of deer culling at two Will County forest preserves.

An advisory referendum on the March 20 ballot for Home Glen residents will ask them if they support the Will County Forest Preserve District’s deer culling program. The controversial program, which started last year, uses sharp shooters to thin the deer population at various preserves.

“This will be as accurate as possible read on the values and sentiments of the residents in my district,” Will County Forest Preserve District Commissioner Kathleen Konicki said.

The Homer Glen Republican is running in a six-way race for two spots on the November ballot for the Will County Board. She has long opposed the deer culling program since its inception, arguing that it is inhumane and unnecessary. She has argued that the program goes against Homer Glen’s village motto of “Community and Nature in Harmony.”

Homer Glen village trustees approved putting the advisory referendum on the ballot. Some noted that residents have come to enjoy seeing deer in their backyards or in the forest preserves. The deer culling program has limited the sightings of deer.

Forest preserve officials, however, note that the preserves in Homer Glen – and in other areas – are suffering from an overpopulation of deer and that the culling program is necessary to protect the eco-system of the preserves. Ideally, forest preserve officials say, the deer population should be at about 20 deer per square mile. At Messenger Marsh, a preserve in Homer Glen, deer counts in early 2011 were estimated at nearly four times that with 79 deer per square mile.

“This is a responsible conservation decision,” said Marcy DeMauro, executive director of the Will County Forest Preserve District.

In 2011, the district’s deer culling program eliminated 135 deer. This year, 99 deer at six preserve sites were culled through the program. The deer culling program was cut short this year because of the weather and lack of snow. A snow cover helps make it easier to see the deer and to lure the deer to the bait.

DeMauro noted the advisory referendum would not have any impact on the deer culling program until later this year when the program starts again. She said it would be up to the forest preserve commissioners to decide if the program would be changed or suspended in specific preserves.

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