A bill that could cut Iowa’s deer population in half in just two years awaits Governor Vilsack’s approval. While city-dwellers have been complaining that deer have invaded urban areas of the state, Senator Dennis Black says the bill mainly expands hunting in rural areas.It will increase the number of free deer hunting licenses for rural land owners and give special hunting permits to allow farmers who have too many deer on their property to thin that local deer herd. The bill also adds a one-dollar surcharge on deer hunting licenses. The money will be deposited in the state’s HUSH program — Help Us Stop Hunger. The meat is taken to meat lockers, processed into ground venison, and then given to food pantries. The money is used to pay meat locker operators to process the meat. Black, who has a masters degree in natural resource management, says the state has too many deer and it’s wrecking the “ecosystem.” “Deer have absolutely a banquet within the communities, going from house to house and nibbling the shrubs and flowers,” Black says. “This is a problem that yet needs to be dealt with.” Black says already-existing Iowa law allows cities to ask the state to establish special hunting zones within city limits to kill deer. Black says the bill that awaits Vilsack’s approval will lead to a yearly reduction in the deer herd of as much as 150-thousand deer. “If we do this for two years, I really think we’ll have to come back and look at the issue because we do not want to harvest more deer than should be,” Black says. A “manageable” deer herd in Iowa is about 350-thousand, according to Black. Today, estimates indicate about six-hundred thousand deer are roaming the state.
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