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A report on the Iowa deer herd

March 31, 2009 at 12:55 PM

An advisory committee appointed by the 2008 Iowa Legislature to examine Iowa’s deer management program has issued its recommendations in their report presented to the legislature earlier this month.  The committee, consisting of a cross section of Iowa business, agriculture, conservation, government and legislators met last fall to take a hard look at Iowa’s deer herd.

The purpose of the committee was to study the best way to maintain a sustainable, socially acceptable deer population in the state while maximizing and balancing the economic value of deer hunting to Iowa’s economy with the needs of the agricultural industry and public safety concerns.

The committee developed six questions at its first meeting that would be the focus for future meetings.  Those questions were what is the status of Iowa’s deer population, harvest and population management programs; the economic impact and value of Iowa’s deer population; the cost of damage to crops caused by deer; the number and cost of motor vehicle accidents caused by deer; a review of the deer management challenges and programs of other Midwestern states; and an assessment of public opinion concerning the number of deer and the impact and value of Iowa’s deer population.

The committee used information from those questions to form their recommendations for Iowa’s deer policy.  The group reached consensus on 16 recommendations. 

Here is a draft copy of the report:

The committee determined that current seasons and regulations are appropriate to manage Iowa’s deer population however they recommend that where herd management goals have not been met, that the department should keep all options available, including new harvest strategies to quickly achieve goals.  It recommended more frequent surveys of hunters, producers and other stakeholders on deer damage and desired population levels. 

It also recognized that the HUSH program is a vital component of Iowa’s deer management program and should have funding to pay the actual cost of processing the deer. 
The committee supports making permanent the three additional temporary wildlife depredation staff. 

The committee advised the DNR to work closely with the DOT to stay current on techniques to reduce deer vehicle crashes and with the Department of Agriculture to develop information to help Iowa producers reduce deer damage.

Other recommendations included finding ways to connect landowners with hunters willing to hunt their property and to improve access to private land for hunters willing to harvest does. Another recommendation was to ban the practice of feeding or baiting deer.

Finally, the committee recommended that the DNR meet annually with this group and additional stakeholders to review progress on the issues identified in the report needed to successfully manage Iowa’s deer population for all Iowans. 

The one issue the committee did not meet consensus on was to allow the DNR to have the authority to set all deer quotas.

Randy Taylor, of Reasnor, represented the Iowa Bowhunters Association.  Taylor, who has been bowhunting deer in Iowa for more than 30 years, said when the meetings first began that he felt it was one sided against the hunter.  But as time went on, people listened to each other and to the information at each meeting.  Members were given assignments to gather information that they had to report on in the following meeting and, Taylor said, the committee members did a great job.

“I thought it was a really good process,” Taylor said.  People voted on what they thought for the recommendations and the committee accomplished what it set out to do, he said.

William Beers, with the Iowa Farm Bureau, said he was pleased to be a part of the legislature’s interim deer study advisory committee, and hoped to continue working on developing the implementation steps for the recommendations in the coming year, but emphasized there is more work to be done.

Beers said he look’s forward to working with the department to develop a pilot program using an ad hoc committee to allow landowners a more equitable share of the economic benefit of deer hunting, land access, and management.

“In addition, we need better information on the economic impacts of deer in Iowa. The impacts deer are having on field crops, vegetables and produce for farmers’ markets, and property damage need attention, too,” Beers said.

“We need to have more discussion of harvest success and results for each type of license. For example, do we only increase the number of antlerless resident licenses in a given gun season? How do we get more hunters to use these licenses successfully? Or do we work to increase the numbers of successful hunters in one or both gun seasons? Do we need a longer gun season or seasons? These are questions that deserve more thoughtful examination,” Beers said.

Committee appointees included the Iowa Farm Bureau, Iowa Conservation Alliance, Iowa Farmer’s Union, Iowa County Conservation Boards, Iowa Insurance Institute, Iowa DOT, Iowa Environmental Council, Iowa Woodland Owner’s Association, Iowa Sierra Club, Iowa Nursery and Landscape Association, Iowa Bowhunters Association, Iowa Meat Processors Association, Iowa Department of Economic Development, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Iowa Rep. Henry Rayhons, Iowa Rep. McKinley Bailey, Iowa Sen. Dennis Black, Iowa Sen. Mark Zieman, and Ken Herring, chair, Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

Your CommentsComments :: Terms :: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Here’s an interesting piece of information straight from this report:
>“Illinois did a study in 2007 that compared the willingness of residents and nonresidents to harvest antlerless deer. The study noted ‘that non-resident desires may be in direct conflict with the broader objectives for white-tailed deer management from a statewide perspective’. They found that nonresidents harvested more large bucks than any other type of deer (64% of kill were bucks) and although more than half of the nonresidents surveyed indicated a willingness to harvest 2 or more does only 3% did so. Eighty-one percent did not harvest any does and 16% killed one.”

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/31 at 01:37 PM

Page 4 summons up the whole thing!! It would be GREAT if this state would get their head out of their -ss and wake up.  Also look at the revenue that the in state hunter spends compared to the out of state hunter.  With check stations gone it has turned things into ghost towns in areas that used to welcome hunting season.  Their data makes that JDTF look like the idiots they were!!!!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/31 at 02:07 PM

I take back every bad thing I’ve said or posted about the Iowa deer management program.  One can only wish that our JTF and IDNR was as progressive as that of Iowa’s.  Here’s hoping Iowa doesn’t experience the same access issues that Illinois has had to suffer through due to uncontrolled outfitting.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/31 at 07:36 PM

Where do I even begin. All of what the JTF report did was give a model for Iowa and the surrounding states of what not to do.  How is it that the Iowa Commission was basically comprised of the same members that the JTF was, Insurance companies, politicans, biologist and sportsman but the final report is drastically different.  Iowa wants to manage it herd efficiently while here in Illinois our powers that be find it nessary to decimate the herd.  All you have to do is read the first few pages of the Iowa report to see the major difference between the two states. A few things really jumped out which our politican, the ones that want to “manage” our herd need to keep in mind. “Increasing the number of non resident hunters will not control the deer population”.  This means that increasing our non resident permit will only bennifit the OUTFITTERS. We are in the mess we are in because non residents come here and spend $4000 for five days to shoot BUCKS.  Allowing more non resident permits will not help the situation. How about raising their license fee’s and raising the outfitter fee’s and implementing a Earn a buck program for Outfitters. “The DNR and DOT…should work with the insurance industry to EDUCATE drivers on how to reduce deer crashes and fatalities”.  Where in our JTF report did any of those insurance companies who where part of the pannel step up to the plate and offer any type of opition other than the erratication of the deer herd? This by far was the best one: the consenus was not met on the issue that the DNR should be given the authority to set all deer quotas. “The committee was evenly split on this idea.  Some committee members FEARED that quotas might be increased to increase funding for the DNR which could reduce the ability for RESIDENT hunters to have access to hunt deer”. What? Do you mean Iowa is concerned about their resident hunters? What a novel concept.  People have complained about the permit process in Iowa, but from what I read Iowa is learning from Illinois mistakes.  With more and more throphy deer coming from Iowa every year they will eventually over take Illinois at the premier hunting state.  And with that goes the outfitters, the non resident hunters and their money, land prices will fall which would allow the average Joe to purchase or lease land.  When that happens its evident that Iowa will have a sound management system in place.  Thanks Iowa

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/31 at 09:55 PM

I see a lot of similarities between IL’s and IA’s recent task force experiences.  (1) In both cases politicians created the committee to recommend ways to reduce the herd. (2) In both cases the committee included farm bureau, insurance, politicians and hunters.  (3) In both cases, even though the DNR’s have targeted antlerless deer in recent years, a recommendation was made to futher reduce the herd to mid to late 1990’s levels.  (4) In both cases hunter input was solicited but didn’t effect the final recommendations.  (5) In both cases DVA’s play a major role in goal setting and future evaluation.  All of these are the same things IL hunters have spent a whole lot of time spewing venom about.

One huge difference though is that IA gave full disclosure on their method of deer herd estimation and trending.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/31 at 11:09 PM

I take back part of what I said.  In IL the task force backed away from an October antlerless season toward expansion of LWS because of bowhunter opposition.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 04/01 at 01:43 AM

Where do you even start on this?  If you look at Iowa’s management report compared to Illinois it looks as if a bunch of pre-schoolers wrote ours.  What a concept “educate drivers when touring through deer country” to eliminate DVAs.  Instead of a smoke and mirrors show that IDNR produced for us it looks as if Iowa has disclosed all of their findings and recommendations.  Its almost as if our JTF didn’t really want to work together on this instead choose to see who ultimately had the most power.  Isn’t that typical in Illinois politics?  I am sure Shelton has looked at these findings and pointed out all the flaws continuing to assure us that all is well with our deer herd.  One small segment in a paragraph says it all.  “successfully manage Iowa’s deer population for all Iowans”.  It didn’t say anything about raping their natural resources by unlimited outfitting or unlimited NR licenses and leaving numerous residents without a place to hunt. That position for a “duck biologist” is still open in Mexico Mr Shelton and so is our offer to pay your travelling expenses.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 04/01 at 09:21 AM

SJ, I think how Iowa and Illinois are using their DVC data is like night and day. Illinois is the only state in the midwest proposing to use DVCs as the sole source of information to determine population trends (see Table 2 on p 37), and it’s probably the only state in the nation that is setting it’s herd management objectives strictly on the basis of DVCs. In other words they are using hunting as a means to effect changes in DVC trends.
Like I said in the other thread I think our DNR is blindly experimenting on this one, and they simply don’t have the science to back it up. Studies have been published on the relationship between hunting and DVCs, but only on very small geographic locations like parks or nature preserves, never on a broad geographic scale like a county or for that matter a very large state like Illinois.
I use the analogy of a rectangle with a line down the middle to describe at least one of the flaws I think is inherent in this strategy. On one half of the rectangle you no hunting is allowed, and you have a high number of DVCs. On the other half you have well managed hunting and a socially acceptable number of DVCs. So how do you use hunting to control DVCs over the entire rectangle? Thats easy, you hammer the #$%%& out of the well managed area.

Posted by Henry Holt on 04/01 at 01:34 PM

There is absolutely no comparison between what Iowa did and what Illinois did in regards to their respective task forces. Iowa obviously put together a group of open minded intelligent people who clearly want to look out for the best interest of their deer herd. Illinois on the other hand had a group of ... “people” ... who do not care about the Illinois deer herd and who already knew what they wanted to do before the task force was ever assembled. They then got a committe together of people who they knew wouldnt make too many waves and traveled around the state on a tour of “insult-the-publics-intelligence” to share their ill-advised plan with the public. Illinois is an absolute joke as far as whitetail management.

ANYONE who wants to take excaption with my statement that our biologists DONT CARE ABOUT THE ILLINOIS DEER HERD needs to start their debate by telling the rest of us what positive change Paul Shelton or John Buhnerkempe have EVER in their entire careers brought to the Illinois deer herd. These guys have been in charge for almost 2 decades now and NOT 1 SINGLE THING CAN BE LISTED AS A POSITIVE THAT THEY HAVE BROUGHT TO OUR DEER HERD. THEY HAVE WORKED UNDER SEVERAL DIRECTORS AND THE RESULT IS ALWAYS THE SAME .... WE JUST SLIDE FURTHER DOWN THE SLOPE. I just hope that Marc Miller is finally the director that actually cares about our deer herd and does something about the continued mis-management

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 04/01 at 04:52 PM

I’m now pretty sure that the computer deer model that Shelton and Buhnerkempe have been using for years, has been putting out some kind of radiation that has ate up their brain cells. It’s obvious Iowa, WI., use a different program!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 04/01 at 05:27 PM

You can carry my above DVC rectangle analogy further by looking at where DVCs are most likely to occur, which is in fact just within a fraction of the total landscape. Predictive models for high probability DVC locations have been published which clearly identify factors such as proximity to bridges (creek and gully locations) and timber, field size, habitat richness etc that can be used to determine high DVC areas where countermeasures are most needed.
So the question becomes how can hunting, which is more which is much more evenly distributed across the landscape, be used effectively as a DVC countermeasure? How much total herd reduction will be required to effect change at high probability DVC locations? How much do areas where hunting is NOT alowed contribute to DVC rates? What is the impact of outfitting, with it’s emphasis on antlered deer harvest, on DVC rates? Unfortunaely, these questions (and several more I could come up with) have not been adequately adressed through scientific research, but nonetheless, our DNR has already started down the path of strictly tying harvest to DVC reate.
Here’s a good quote from the countermeasure/toolbox section on hunting at “No studies were found that attempted to quantitatively relate hunting and/or herd reduction activities or policies with a subsequent change in the number of DVCs within a particular large geographic area (e.g., a state). Not surprisingly, the primary objective of the hunting or herd reduction studies reviewed for this toolbox was the impact these
activities may have had on the animal population of interest. Several papers and reports were reviewed, however, that did document observed DVC patterns while herd reduction activities were being completed within smaller geographic areas (e.g., a park or city).”
I’m afraid that other states, including Iowa, will once again be benefiting from our mistakes. The first big one was opening the floodgates to outfitting, and this will probably be the second.

Posted by Henry Holt on 04/02 at 09:59 AM

IA plans to reduce their deer herd from a high of 400,000 in 2006 to 175,000 by 2011.  That would be like IL reducing our deer herd from 800,000 to 350,000 in 5 years.  IL hunters scream about herd decimation when we have a harvest decline of 12,000.

Half of IA’s committee voted to NOT give the DNR authority to set all deer quotas.  “They would prefer to see elected representatives continue to set the quota”.

IA has antlerless season both before and after their regular firearms season.

There’s nothing in the IA report addressing anything a trophy hunter would consider as improving the quality of the IA deer herd.  It is all about getting the deer numbers down by drastically increasing the antlerless deer kills.

Methinks IL hunters wouldn’t be very happy to receive a report with these results.  But me also thinks IL hunters live to complain.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 04/02 at 08:00 PM

Sj, there are a few differences…
1) The reason that IA voted to not give their DNR the authority to manage permits, is because they’re afraid their DNR would do what our legislators do… raise all the quotas to sell more permits to make more money.  The big difference is… IA legislators are hunters and IL legislators are money-hungry politicians.  Hunters in IL don’t have anyone (DNR or politicians) looking out for them.
2) IA’s gun season is in December.  That alone is better for managing for trophies.  Should IL follow suit?  IA also admits, from another press release, that parts of IA now have deer populations that are “below desired levels” due to their agressive doe harvest.
3) The Iowa report clearly states that raising the number of NR hunters doesn’t nothing to control the population.  Amazing that a committee made up of suc a diverse group of people, can still figure out that raising their NR limit is not in the best interest of their deer herd, or their resident hunters.
Henry is right.  Even a 9-day LWS will do nothing to change numbers in IL, except for maybe the counties that don’t need more doe harvest.  The DNR already admits that their “objectives” in counties like Pike, is to reduce DVA’s/billion miles driven to over 2,000… when the statewide objective is 207.  They’re already accepting that Pike will never come down out of the “red zone”.  And they’ve also accepted the fact that outfitters kill .5 deer per outfitter during the LWS.  Assuming we have 300 outfitters, that’s a whopping 150 deer total from all our illustrious outfitters COMBINED.  THAT’S really going to help Pike County reduce it’s DVA’s, isnt’ it?????  At the same time, counties like Christian, where I hunt, who just came on to the LWS a few years ago… will now get a 9-day season, even though we’re at or below the DNR’s objective that they set for DVA’s (per DNR’s statistics).  Think it will come off the LWS?  I doubt it.

Posted by KC-IBS on 04/03 at 09:51 AM

well said Kevin- If anyone wants to compare Iowa to illinois, and enact changes to bring them online togther- GO FOR IT!  when they move our first gun season into December- pull the N’R permits AWAY from the IDNR and reduce the number to 6000-Me thinks no complaints from here.

Those TWO THINGS are why Iowa has what it has today-

Iowa has handled it well FROM THE BEGINING-

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 04/03 at 11:45 AM

LOL move the shotgun seasons into December and cut NR permis by 3/4ths and methinks I’ll shut the %^$# up too.

Posted by Henry Holt on 04/03 at 05:13 PM

Henry… your comments are right on concerning DVC.  Ive read the direct research articles on the topic and it says basically what you stated.  Clean out the outfitted land in illinois and bring it to reasonable levels and we will have things much better in our state.  My problem isnt with the bringing of the deer levels down.  My problem is that they want to bring the deal levels down in areas of moderate or lower levels of deer in the state while allowing the areas that have high levels to remain that way.  Bottom line the state has plenty of deer being removed as is… they just arent being removed from the right areas.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 04/04 at 03:25 AM

Clint, you nailed it.  Doesn’t take a computer modeler to see that.  Anyone notice that according to the IA statistics and map, IL is only a “moderate” risk of even having a DVA.  IA, WI, and IN are higher than IL.  But IL is the only state that manages its harvest acording to DVA’s (also from the IA report).

Posted by KC-IBS on 04/05 at 07:37 PM

DVA’s is all they have.  It’s not like they have other reliable data sitting around they could use but just choose to use DVA’s.  They got nothing.  That’s one lesson learned from the JTF process.  If there ever was a time for the DNR to open the secret vault and bring out their biological management data, that was the time to do it.  Now we know there is no secret vault.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 04/05 at 10:19 PM

As Don Higgins stated: “These guys (Illinois’ Deer Biologists)have been in charge for almost 2 decades now and NOT 1 SINGLE THING CAN BE LISTED AS A POSITIVE THAT THEY HAVE BROUGHT TO OUR DEER HERD. THEY HAVE WORKED UNDER SEVERAL DIRECTORS AND THE RESULT IS ALWAYS THE SAME .... WE JUST SLIDE FURTHER DOWN THE SLOPE.” Maybe it’s time to look at hiring some “new blood” and getting a new infusion of ideas, based upon current deer management research and methods, not 20 year old data and out of date methodologies.  Let’s face it, there are a lot of problems with the deer management program in Illinois that are going to require new fresh ideas to overcome.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 04/08 at 04:15 PM

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