The leaders of at least two Iowa cities are considering ordinances which would forbid residents from putting food out for deer. City councils in Urbandale and Elkader have put the wheels in motion for such restrictions and Willie Suchy of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources says it’s good to discourage the practice.
"Someone who decides to feed deer or other wildlife, but in particular deer, with an excessive amount of food — they can create problems by attracting deer into situations where normally there wouldn’t be a lot of deer," Suchy says. But Suchy, who’s been monitoring Iowa’s deer population for the past two decades, says deer are primarily in urban areas because they’ve found some sort of "green space."
"Deer are very adaptable," Suchy says. "If there’s a green area — which you know we like to have in our cities as nice, natural areas for people to recreate in — deer will take advantage of them, but what the feeding does is kind of make the problem worse by concentrating deer in areas." Officials in at least 10 Iowa cities are allowing hunters to use bows and arrows to shoot deer in certain areas in order to thin the deer population.
Suchy says surveys indicate there are about five percent fewer deer roaming the state now compared to this time last year. "But it depends greatly on what part of the state you’re in. Northern and central Iowa — deer numbers are down and are fairly stable," he says. "Southern Iowa and eastern Iowa — we still have plenty of deer and we’re trying to reduce numbers."
Suchy, the wildlife research supervisor for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, says there were around three-hundred-80-thousand (380,000) deer in Iowa at the end of the last deer hunting season. The goal is to reduce that population to somewhere in the range between 250-thousand (250,000) and three-hundred-thousand (300,000).