Concerns over a high number of deer in west suburban River Forest have prompted the village to consider a sharp-shooter program that would allow hunters to descend on parts of the area.
River Forest officials said they have reviewed more than 60 complaints this year, the largest in recent years, stating deer were destroying property in the Chicago suburb. The number is so high, the village is looking to partner with the Forest Preserve of Cook County in an intergovernmental agreement.
“They have licensed and trained people who will come in that will act as sharp shooters,” said Village Administrator Eric Palm.
Residents said herds of deer are traveling out of the popular Thatcher Woods and into residential areas, where they are damaging gardens, eating fruit trees and leaving behind droppings.
“They nibble off buds and bark of our fruit trees,” said resident George Vuckovic. “They have done it to our peach, plum and apricot trees. We have taken a lot of time to plant these trees and they come in and destroy them. They are cute but they are becoming a nuisance.”
Some residents believe the animals are taking Iowa Street from Thatcher Woods. The deer have also been spotted as far east as Harlem Avenue.
A so-called sharp-shooter program would allow deer hunting in the village beginning Dec. 1. The shooters would be limited to forest preserve land, which would include Thatcher Woods property, officials said, and all the meat would be donated to a food pantry.
Village officials said they are in the “due diligence process” and final costs were still being outlined.
While some residents agree with the idea of a sharp-shooter program, others say the deer have nowhere to go after significant rains flooded the woods.
“They are looking for food,” said life-long resident Leslie Zimmerman. “I don’t mind them in my yard. They have to eat. Don’t kill them, they are beautiful.”