What Type of Permit Is Needed To Remove Deer?

White-tailed deer are protected under the Illinois Wildlife Code as a game species. It is illegal to take deer (including fawns) from the wild unless an individual obtains a permit from the IDNR. A person who hits and kills a deer with a motorized vehicle can legally claim the deer to salvage the meat, hide, and/or antlers. Controlling White-tailed Deer Damage in Illinois provides a key to help determine which type of permit, if any, is needed. Deer Removal Permits (DRPs) are generally issued to landowners for properties that are not incorporated within municipal boundaries to help reduce damage caused by deer, where excessive damage to agricultural crops, nurseries, orchards, and/or vineyards is current and on-going. Deer Population Control Permits (DPCPs) are issued to agencies, organizations, associations and municipalities, but are not issued to individual landowners.

Deer Removal Permits (DRP)

Deer Removal Permits (DRPs) allow individuals to protect crops and other plant life from deer that are causing severe damage. The DRPs are valid at the time the damage is actually occurring and are meant to augment other forms of deer damage abatement. These permits are issued after other damage abatement techniques have been attempted and have failed to reduce damage to acceptable levels. Landowners applying for such permits should be ready to explain what techniques they have used to help reduce damage.

The issuance of DRPs outside of the legal deer hunting seasons in Illinois may provide temporary relief during critical damage periods. The DRPs are issued only after documentation of severe damage. Permits are not issued for fence damage, as compensation for past or anticipated crop damage, nor are they issued during or between Illinois’ firearm deer seasons. Finding deer tracks in a field does not always indicate that deer caused the damage. In many cases, damage is caused by blackbirds, raccoons, or species other than deer.

Problems associated with this control method include the many man-hours that are required to kill each deer when vegetative cover is most abundant. Also, other deer may move into the area to replace the ones that are killed. Removal of deer by special permit may help in certain cases, but cannot be considered as part of a long-term solution to the problem.

How to Obtain a DRP

DRP Issuance Criteria

What Is Considered "Excessive" Damage?

DRPs are issued during critical stages of plant development, which varies by crop.

Corn

A minimum of 5 percent of the field must be browsed to warrant issuance of a DRP. The most critical time for corn damage/protection is during the tasseling or "silk"stage, also called the "milk" stage. DRPs are not issued to control deer damage to unharvested crops when 75 percent of that specific crop has been harvested in that agricultural district unless extenuating circumstances (wet conditions, etc.) prevent harvest.

Soybeans

Browsing must be evident on 67 to 100 percent of leaves prior to the plant’s five-leaf stage to warrant issuance of a DRP. Given adequate moisture, soybeans typically can outgrow most deer browsing pressure. The most critical time for soybeans being browsed by deer is from the plant’s emergence to the 5-leaf stage. Soybeans can tolerate considerable defoliation in later stages (after the 5-leaf stage) and still produce good yields. Soybean yield reduction can often be minimized or reduced by drilling or double-row planting beans in areas of high damage. Deer are less likely to eat all plants in a row as drilled beans limit mobility a slight bit. Closer neighboring plants are more likely to re-grow and help offset any yield loss.

Tree Plantings

If the damage caused by deer has reduced seedling survival to less than 70 percent of the stocking rate (as documented by an IDNR district forester) and jeopardizes a cooperator’s payment (such as Conservation Reserve Program, Forest Development Act, etc.), then a DRP may be issued to augment other forms of damage abatement (e.g., fencing, repellents, hunting).

Nursery and Orchard Loss

Issuance of a DRP for a nursery or orchard depends upon the size of the tree stock involved. When trees are less than two inches diameter at breast height (DBH), 10 percent of the specific species damaged may be eligible for DRP. Older, saleable plant nursery stock has higher value, and the 10 percent rule does not apply. Given the high value of the crop grown, and the fact that it is grown continuously in the same area, the best long-term solution is often exclusion of deer by fencing. Exclusionary fencing may be a legitimate business expense deductible from taxes. Check with your tax preparer to obtain more information, and to see if your business would qualify for this deduction.

Guidelines on When a DRP Will Not be Issued and Exceptions

Electric fencing knocked down by deer is annoying, but DRPs are not usually issued unless: colored electric vinyl fencing has been installed, or highly visible flagging has been installed on section(s) of fence routinely damaged, or "peanut butter" foil flags have been used. Permanent deer-proof fencing is very expensive, but it is likely the best way to protect high dollar crops (like vineyards, orchards) on small acreage.

Baled Hay

DRPs will not be issued when damage can be alleviated by fencing or by removing the hay from the field and storing it in a protected area such as a shed or barn.

Small Grains, Hay, Specialty Crops
Natural Regeneration

DRPs Are Not Currently Authorized to:

Population Control

Deer Removal Permits (DRPs) are not meant to be used for deer population control. DRPs are meant to help temporarily reduce deer damage on a very localized basis by removing offending animal(s). Reduction and control of deer can be best accomplished by hunting with an emphasis on taking female deer. DRPs are not meant to alleviate damage to huntable properties where the landowner does not attempt to properly control the deer population during the hunting seasons. For example, DRPs are not issued in cases where the landowner will not allow deer hunting, or limits hunting to the extent that harvest is minimal, or the sex composition of the harvest is such that it does not significantly contribute to solving the damage problem (i.e., few, if any, females are harvested). However, a DRP may be issued in the prior situation if:

  1. The damage is excessive, as determined by IDNR personnel, and
  2. it is the first damage-related contact between the complainant and IDNR personnel. On properties where deer harvest is not allowed or where the doe harvest is inadequate, DRPs will not be issued unless it is the first contact with IDNR and the damage is new, excessive, and on-going. The decision to issue or deny future permits is based on the complainant’s efforts to increase deer harvest (emphasis on harvesting does) during the hunting seasons. Effort can be documented by providing the investigating biologist (upon request) the names of all hunters accessing the property and the number and gender of deer taken.

By the beginning of the next deer hunting season, the landowner will be expected to:

Permit Provisions and Removal Specifications

The DRP issued will list the following information and actions:

Who Shoots the Deer?

The IDNR prefers that the landowner/complainant be one of the individuals who shoots the deer, plus one other individual or hunter of his or her choice. The names of the individuals who shoot the deer are provided to the local IDNR Conservation Police Officers (CPOs). Illinois resident shooters must have Firearm Owner’s Identification (FOID). Non-residents can be shooters, and this is a common practice in counties bordering other states.

What Can be Done with Deer Taken via DRPs?

The IDNR encourages all deer taken to be processed for human consumption. Inedible parts of the deer, including antlers, and/or whole deer that are not butchered, must be disposed of according to the Illinois Dead Animal Disposal Act.

Deer Removal Permit Return

All DRPs, unused leg tags, and completed carcass disposition information must be returned to the authorizing agent within 10 days of permit expiration. Failure to do so may result in the complainant being ineligible for future permits.

Deer Population Control Permits (DPCP)

Deer population control permits (DPCPs) are issued to agencies, organizations, associations and municipalities, but are not issued to individual landowners. These permits authorize the reduction or control of deer numbers by non-traditional or non-hunting methods.

There is an application process for DPCPs, and the application is essentially a deer management proposal that documents the need for deer herd reduction by nontraditional means such as sharpshooting. The prevailing objectives for most current deer control programs under DPCPs are to: reduce damage to native plant communities or ecosystems, reduce deer-vehicle accidents on the property or adjacent roads, and reduce damage complaints from residents or neighbors. DPCPs are only issued for the use of "field-proven effective" techniques; they are not issued for experimental methods or research.

DPCPs are issued for a maximum of 90 days (time extensions are possible). There is no limit on the number of deer that can be taken, but the number proposed to be collected must be justified and documented. Additionally, the damage being caused by deer must be documented in the permit application.