Additional Opportunity for Iowa Deer Hunters

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An emergency rule that would offer additional deer hunting opportunities later in December was considered Thursday by the Natural Resources Commission.

"This proposal shows our dedication in addressing concerns of the public regarding deer and still provide quality recreational opportunities for Iowa's hunters," said DNR Director Richard Leopold.

Leopold said the proposal before the commission recognizes the fact that severe weather conditions have put the DNR behind in its goals of reducing the state's deer herd.

"We have made great strides in recent years to reduce deer numbers and have had success in many parts of the state. We want to make this opportunity available so we can continue moving in the right direction. Hunting is our most effective tool in the management of deer populations," said Leopold.

The proposed amendment would allow resident deer hunters who have a valid, unfilled, 2007 deer license and transportation tag for the youth or two regular shotgun seasons to hunt and take antlerless only deer for each unused tag for those seasons. The proposed season would be Dec. 21-23 and would still be subject to regulations that will be announced if the commission approves the proposal on Thursday.

"Consideration of this special opportunity is a direct benefit of the mandatory deer harvest reporting system," said Ken Herring, administrator of the DNR's Conservation and Recreation Division.

Herring said the recent bad weather adversely affected the number of hunters able to participate during recent seasons, particularly the first shotgun season.

"Because we have immediate access to harvest numbers, we are able to determine right away where we are at in terms of the harvest and our goals. This system of being able to collect data immediately is a very powerful tool in helping us manage the deer herd and maintain Iowa's world class status for deer hunting," said Herring.

So far, deer harvest data indicates the harvest is 34,000 deer below last year at the same time and below the target goals of the DNR's Wildlife Bureau which has been carefully monitoring the harvest rates.

"With the new harvest reporting system, it gives us the ability to suggest changes like this that will allow us to get closer to our harvest goals and provide Iowans with additional recreational opportunities," said Herring.

All deer harvested, if the special season is approved, must be reported as required during the other seasons and all hunters will need to have the required unfilled deer licenses from previous seasons in their possession when hunting. A system will be established that will allow even those who did not fill tags and no longer have possession of those tags to obtain new ones for the special hunt. The method for receiving these tags will be announced if the rule is approved.

"In the meantime, we would urge any of those hunters still in possession of unfilled tags to hang on to them if they want to participate in this special hunt," said Herring.

For additional information, contact Dale Garner at 515-281-6156 or Willie Suchy at 515-281-8660.