MOLINE, Illinois -- Hunt Harris's on-again, off-again attempt to eradicate deer that have been ravaging he and his neighbors plants is off again.
In May, Harris successfully convinced the Moline City Council to grant him the right to hunt deer on his wooded property in the center of Moline. At the time, the Illinois DNR had concurred with Harris's contention that an overpopulation of deer was adversely impacting the neighborhood, and the Council approved the firearm discharge permit, despite concerns from neighbors who argued against the inter-city hunt.
However, the IDNR also recommended that Harris wait until fall to act. Late in August, they re-inspected the property, and although they once again recognized deer were still over populated and damaging property, they reversed course on the best solution.
In a letter sent to Harris on Aug. 29, DNR officials wrote that "only after all other abatement options have been seriously employed and exhausted can an IDNR official consider or issue a Deer Removal Permit (DRP). IDNR feels that other abatement techniques could still be used successfully on your property."
The IDNR also stated that a better solution would be one that is applicable city-wide.
"IDNR feels that reducing the size of the deer population in problem areas of Moline is the long term solution to the ornamental landscaping damage that you and your neighbors are experiencing. This can be accomplished by the City of Moline either obtaining a Deer Population Control Permit from IDNR or conducting a deer hunting program similar to the program in Rock Island."
Harris said he suspects pressure from critics led to the change in direction by the IDNR.
"I expect the DNR got some calls from people who were opposed and back-tracked on it," he said. "It is what it is."
He said he would like to see Moline leaders pursue a deer population reduction project, but likely will not lobby for it before the City Council.
"It appears to me that the DNR is looking for a city-wide solution, and that makes sense," Harris said.