The state Natural Resources Commission has given preliminary approval to some changes in deer hunting regulations that will impact several counties.

The DNR’s Tyler Harms says general deer licenses are being reestablished for all seasons in Hamilton, Webster, and Wright counties. “For the past several years we have had an ‘antler deer only’ restriction on general deer licenses for the first shotgun season in counties in northwest Iowa to allow deer populations to recover to goal levels,” Harms says. “Our data shows that this is indeed occurring in these three counties.”

The January antlerless deer only season is being conditionally reinstated for five counties. “Allamakee, Appanoose, Decatur, Wayne, and Winneshiek counties. The reinstation of this season will occur only if the respective number of unsold antlerless-only-deer licenses in a county exceeds 100 on the third Monday in December. Which is essentially after the completion of our first shotgun deer hunting season,” Harms says.

He says this move has two goals. “It maintains a stable level of antlerless deer harvest during the early seasons when deer are still within their breeding home range, thus helping to slow the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease which currently occurs in all five of these counties,” according to Harms. “Second, it allows the opportunity for additional antlerless harvests late in the hunting season to help with population management. The Department goal overall moving forward will be to stabilize deer numbers in these counties and slow the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease.”

Harms says they have used the 100 antlerless limit before. “This is our attempt to be a bit more creative in terms of how we implement this season to accomplish our goals,” Harms says. “And so we are trying to maintain that level of harvest early in the year to help slow the Chronic Wasting Disease spread — but also provide the opportunity for hunters to harvest additional antlerless deer late in the season depending on the number of licenses that are left in a county.”

The changes also will modify the antlerless-deer-only license quotas in 25 other counties. “Resulting in an overall increase of 1,250 additional antlerless deer licenses available statewide. Quotas are being increased in a total of 16 counties and are being decreased in a total of nine counties,” Harms says.

The quotas are being increased in Buchanan, Butler, Dallas, Des Moines, Dubuque, Fayette, Floyd, Henry, Johnson, Keokuk, Lee, Louisa, Madison, Marion, Muscatine, and Warren counties. The quotas would be decreased in Adams, Fremont, Harrison, Jasper, Mills, Monona, Pottawattamie, Wapello, and Woodbury counties.

Harms says the rules are now open for public comment and there will be a public comment hearing on March 30th from noon to 1 p.m.