- Associated Press - Saturday, October 31, 2015

ZION, Ill. (AP) - Deer hunting with a bow and arrow will be allowed for the first time at Illinois Beach State Park in Zion.

The archery deer program at the park is set to begin Sunday and run until mid-January, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources said in a news release.

The department’s aim is to reduce the harmful effects that deer have on vegetation and habitats. Park superintendent Saki Villalobos said it is meant to get the deer population down to a more manageable level, rather than eliminate it.

“We’ve been trying to do this for years. The herd is a pretty good size,” Villalobos told The (Waukegan) News-Sun (https://trib.in/1NwBaQx ). “So far the reaction has been pretty good. The hunters really like it.”

A 2014 study by the state department found deer feeding was harming the park’s plant community. The park has more than 500 species of plants, including 51 considered threatened or endangered by Illinois and one federally endangered species, according to the department.

Hunters were selected through a lottery. The Department of Natural Resources has set up two hunting zones that can have five hunters each. Hunting can’t take place near roadways, shelters or the Lake Michigan shoreline, and hunters have to stay 75 yards off of trails.

Villalobos said the archery program’s length will be determined by hunter success rates, plant monitoring and park visitor surveys.

Bow-and-arrow deer hunting is also allowed by the state at Chain O’Lakes State Park west of Antioch and Volo Bog near Volo.

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Information from: Lake County News-Sun, https://newssun.chicagotribune.com/

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