The Department of Natural Resources has arrested three men for hunting deer in Benton County. It happened during the January shotgun deer season, but northeast district law-enforcement supervisor Jennifer Lancaster explains their violation was operating from the air. She says it’s illegal to use an aircraft to hunt, and in this case the DNR thinks they were using “powered parachutes” with two men flying the two craft and a third on the ground, as they “pushed” deer toward the hunter. Lancaster says, “It’s a safety consideration as well as a sportsmanship consideration.” She says there are plenty of opportunities in Iowa to hunt deer, but it must be done legally and safely — and she says this was neither. The two men in the ultralight craft aren’t accused of shooting from the air, but it’s illegal to herd or “push” deer toward a hunter. There are things for which you can use animals, like dogs in some hunts, but you can’t take them on a deer hunt or use other domestic animals like riding on horseback. She says, “You need to go out there and hike through the fields or through the timber,” to harvest deer and can’t legally use motorized vehicles, on the ground or in the air, to “push” deer. Conservation officers had gotten reports about the aerial deerstalkers, and in this case some legal deer hunters were able to give identifying information. They served two search warrants and seized the two “powered parachutes,” and the men will be charged either in state or federal courts, as she notes there are also federal regulations against hunting from aircraft. The small private craft were kept in a garage and an enclosed trailer. Lancaster got a look at the ultralight craft, and says at least one could carry two people. She describes a rig in which one could ride behind the pilot, with a cage surrounding a small airplane propeller and behind that, a rectangular parachute. It happened in Benton County just south of the Black Hawk County line, near the Hickory Hills County Park, in an area known for good habitat, and Lancaster says many legal sportsmen take advantage of the deer-hunting opportunities there. This is the second case of this kind this year, she says — in Pottawatamie County an offender charged with hunting from the air has gone through court. Penalties can range from a fine to civil penalties and damages for taking an animal, to a criminal sentence. Charged with illegal hunting/pursuing of deer with an aircraft are Steve Risse, 47, of rural Dysart, Harry Moeller, 48, of rural Buckingham and John Forbes, 28, of Waterloo.
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