The Gazette covers City Hall, now a flood-damaged icon on May's Island in the Cedar River

Decision on next bowhunt of deer hits the horizon

In City Hall on March 26, 2008 at 3:14 pm

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is alerting City Hall that it should inform the state’s Natural Resources Commission by May 31 if it intends to conduct its fourth straight urban bowhunt of deer later this year.

The City Council in each of the last three deer-hunting seasons has unanimously approved a special urban bowhunt of deer in Cedar Rapids.

That does not mean, though, that a core group of hunt opponents hasn’t campaigned to end the hunt.

The opponents have lobbied and leaned on the city to stop the bowhunt and to work to implement other kinds of deer management practices – new signage, speed-limit changes, public education. Many of the ideas seek to have motorists help reduce deer-vehicle crashes.

Each of the three bowhunts have seen more deer taken by hunters. The totals have been 298, 333 and 349 in the hunting season that ended in January.

At the same time, deer-vehicles crashes inside the city fell significantly in 2007, to 275 from 348 the year before, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources has reported.

In addition, this winter’s aerial count of deer by the DNR found dramatically fewer deer inside the city. The number was 2,315, down from 3,098 from a year ago.

The bow hunt targets does, which normally deliver twins, and so the hunt appears to be having the desired effect on deer numbers, the DNR has said.

Each hunt has been carried out by state-licensed recreational hunters, who pass a proficiency test. The hunts have come at little or no cost to the city, in part, because Cedar Rapids firefighters administer the hunt as part of their other duties.

Fire Chief Steve Havlik, the hunt administrator, has called each hunt a success. The bowhunts have brought few complains and no injuries to people, Havlik has said.

Most people, he says, don’t even know the bowhunt, from September into January, is occurring.

Cedar Rapids is one of several Iowa cities that conduct urban bowhunts.

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