Bowhunters Step up To Help with Wildlife Survey

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More than 1,700 Iowa bowhunters participated in the first ever Iowa Bowhunter Observation Survey during the 2004 deer hunting season.

The randomly selected bowhunters from across the state were asked to record the number of hours they hunted and the number of deer and selected furbearers they observed while hunting. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) received observations from over 27,000 hunting trips, which provided nearly 95,000 hours of observational data. The data is being used to supplement existing deer population data and to examine population trends of selected furbearers over time.

In addition to deer, bowhunters were asked to record the number of badgers, bobcats, cats, coyotes, gray fox, opossum, otters, raccoons, red fox and skunks. Results from the survey were calculated for each of the 9 climate regions of the state.

"The amount of information provided by the bowhunters is much greater than what we could ever obtain with our biologists, technicians, and conservation officers," said Steve Roberts, DNR wildlife research biologist who collaborated on the study with William Clark, professor at Iowa State University. He said bowhunters donated the equivalent of 12,000 workdays during the survey. "Their efforts were just phenomenal."

"It's really satisfying to know that many of Iowa's bowhunters do care about conservation, which is obvious because of their willingness to participate in the survey," Roberts said. "I have received many positive comments from bowhunters about this survey, and we are hopeful that even more bowhunters will participate in future years. This is, by far, the most popular survey that I have conducted."

Roberts said he and Clark believed avid bowhunters would be the best hunters to select for the survey because they would hunt often and tend to have the most experience in selecting good stand locations. They would also be more likely to control or mask human scent, use camouflage, identify animals correctly, and return the survey.

Surveys were sent to a random sample of bowhunters who obtained bow-hunting licenses each year during 2001, 2002, and 2003. Roberts and Clark made every attempt to distribute the survey evenly across the state.

Results from this survey will be online at by early next week.