SPRINGFIELD — Antlerless deer are off-limits to hunters during the first 15 days of the archery deer season in five Illinois counties as part of an effort to increase the deer herd in the region, announced the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

Antlerless deer are defined as deer having antlers less than 3 inches long.

The counties involved are Champaign, Douglas, Macon, Moultrie and Piatt counties. Hunters in those counties may only take antlered deer from Oct. 1-15.

Deer population levels in the five counties are below currently adopted goals for the region. Similar restrictions for archery deer hunters during the late 1990s and early 2000s were effective in boosting the size of the deer herd in east-central Illinois.