Landowners would be allowed to kill up to three times as many deer as they can today, if a bill that cleared the Senate Natural Resources Committee becomes law. Senator Dennis Black, a democrat from Newton who’s the committee’s co-chairman, says landowners and their tenants would be able to shoot up to 10 deer from one farming unit. Black says it’s an appropriate move because the deer eat the crops of rural landowners, and destroy gardens, too. Under current law, a landowner may only kill three deer per year on his or her property. Legislators are also putting pressure on state regulators to allow more targeted deer hunting in city limits. Black says there are “hot spots” in Iowa that need to have the deer population thinned. “Our major cities are along the rivers and they, of course, are where the deer congregate. They know where it’s safe,” Black says. “We want to work to make sure the city councils allow primarily bow hunting to reduce those number of deer.” Black believes 80-thousand deer can be taken down with these special hunts. Finally, the legislation would charge deer hunters another buck to raise money for the state’s HUSH or Help Us Stop Hunger program which lets deer hunters donate meat that winds up in food banks. The program will expand statewide, and the estimated 350-thousand dollars that will be raised will be paid to meat lockers that process the deer meat. Black says hunters are willing to buy an extra deer tag and donate the meat. A doe tag today costs $11. With the new surcharge, they’ll be $12. Black believes these steps will reduce the state’s deer population to a manageable level in two years. There are approximately 700- to 800-thousand deer in Iowa today. Black says a “manageable herd” is in the 500-thousand range. Also yesterday at the statehouse, the state veterinarian reported chronic wasting disease that attacks white tail deer, mule deer and elk is just eight miles away in Wisconsin.
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