Cook County bans deer netting

Animal rights activists proclaim 'victory'

September 1995

Chicago Suburban News

By James Pluta

Convincing public testimony and graphic videotape showing deer being catapulted in to the air, landing on their heads and necks and struggling and crying out for more than a half hour has prompted a ban on the controversial rocket netting of deer in Cook County forest preserves.

Cook County Commissioner Allan C. Carr, who chaired a special committee that recommended the moratorium "unless absolutely necessary for live capture only," conceded the board's 15-2 vote Sept. 6 was in response to public sentiment against the method voiced at an Aug. 2 public hearing.

"I think some of the (activist groups) spoke out and I think we listened and reached an excellent compromise where both came out satisfied," said the Republican commissioner from Cicero.

And while veterinary technician Cindy Erickson of Citizens for Trailside declared the vote "definitely" a victory for wildlife conservation, activists and the general public, the Berwyn resident said she was amazed the board made such a turnaround.

"I was surprised because the Forest Preserve District came out with all guns blasting" when the issue arose, she said. "They brought out the DuPage Forest Preserve, the Department of Conservation, the Fish and Wildlife Service and research scientists to prove the position … and they had the Nature Conservancy there in force."

But because of the testimony brought in by the country, she said she predicted "a real hard fight" in getting the moratorium passed.

"We were not saying we didn't want the deer to be managed. We just wanted them managed humanely," she said. "(But) I think what happened is they believed their eyes, the realized the method is very expensive and that it was very hard for them to deny the film."

The videotape, secretly taken in DuPage County by members of the Chicago Animal Rights Coalition, another supporter of the ban, was shown at the public hearing and on at least one major Chicago television network at the time.

Carr said though the board agreed with his committee's Aug. 30 recommended moratorium on the Forest Preserve District's use of the rocket nets, the ban also "left the window open" in case something had to be done to thin the herds of deer on an emergency basis.

In that case, Forest Preserve District General Superintendent Joseph Nevius would have to return to the County Board with a written proposal, then to the committee – which would have to seek public comment before making a recommendation to the full board.

It's a measure Erickson said she was glad was enacted along with the moratorium because it puts a "checks and balances system" on the county with regard to deer culling.

"It's not the best way, but in some cases it's the only way" of capturing deer in overpopulated areas, added Carr, who said the rocket netting method has not been deployed in quite a while and has never been used for the killing of deer in Cook County.

"It's now up to the superintendent to determine if an area is or is not safe for that, but there's nothing so emergent where we need to use it now," he said.

Earlier this year, the DuPage County Board enacted a similar moratorium, but on the killing of deer using the rocket net and captive bolt method. That decision also followed pleas by animal rights activists.

With that method, a rocket-propelled net is cast over herds of deer baited with cord, and when the animals became entangled, a 3-inch retractable steel rod is embedded into their foreheads to kill them. "It's an ugly way of killing them, but not an inhumane way it it's done right," said Erickson.

"The film we had indicated they either didn't know what they were doing or how to properly use the gun."

And while the only remaining method is sharpshooting – which Erickson called a quicker and more humane method – she said her group is continuing to monitor a new technique being researched by the Humane Society of the United States.

The technique, which would need Food and Drug Administration approval, is the use of a non-steroidal, non-hormonal drug nicknamed "PZP," a naturally occurring chemical in the body that makes one unable to conceive for one to two years, thinning out the deer population.

She said it has been used with success elsewhere in herds of wild horses and captive deer, but is somewhat impractical because the same deer must receive an injection with a dart gun twice in two weeks for the chemical to be effective. After that, only a single annual booster shot is required.

More Videos

To see even more documentation and video exposés please visit SHARK's YouTube account to watch any of our over 1000 videos!

Click Here

Follow SHARK on Social Media