Hunters Encouraged to Return DNR Questionnaire

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The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is asking a select group of hunters to return a postcard survey that is used by state wildlife biologists to estimate hunter participation, game population and harvest. This survey is the only method currently available to the DNR and the number of hunters responding to the survey statewide is shrinking nearly 5 percent each year.

"Without this information, we cannot accurately manage our game species and we are at a critical time with our deer population. We need to know if we are reaching our doe harvest goals," said Steve Roberts, wildlife research biologist with the DNR. "In the past, we have allowed hunters to respond to the survey voluntarily. But if we continue to see fewer and fewer responses, we will be forced to look at other options."

Those options could include mandatory check stations, phone surveys and telephone reporting. If one of these options is selected, there is a chance that license fees could increase to help offset the cost of collecting the information. There could also be a fine or other penalty for hunters failing to report.

"Clearly, from a cost standpoint and from a convenience standpoint, we prefer to stay with the voluntary postcard survey. But realistically, if we continue down this road of few survey card returns, we have to look at our options," Roberts said.

Roberts said hunters should fill out and return the cards even if they did not hunt or had gone hunting but did not harvest any game. For the deer survey, he asks that hunters report only the number of their personal tag (s) used on deer, not the deer they shot and were tagged by another hunter. He also asks that hunters fill out their own survey cards and not give them to anyone else because they were selected for a specific reason. And finally, only fill out the information requested and be truthful in the response. Only a sample of hunters are surveyed and each response represents a number of hunters.