Gazette Editorial Board
What’s the right size for Iowa’s deer population? It depends on who you ask.
Although this fall, Iowa’s deer herd appears to be down to a level the state Department of Resources considers sustainable, not everyone agrees with the DNR’s judgment.
Farming and insurance groups say the herd still is too large. Some hunters say it’s not large enough.
As is the case with so many things, there is no perfect answer — no clear right or wrong when it comes to managing our deer population.
Now that DNR targets have been met, it will take continued review and public conversation on the issue to make sure the herd stays healthy and to balance conflicting interests.
Iowa’s deer herd has been shrinking since 2006, as the result of DNR policies allowing for more does to be culled from the herd.
The estimated number of deer in the state is down by one-third, from a peak of about 650,000 to about 435,000, according to a recent Gazette news story.
Satisfied with the progress, this year the DNR will issue nearly 4,000 fewer tags to allow hunting of does.
That, despite the position of some that an even smaller herd would further reduce damage to crops and accidents along Iowa roadways.
DNR efforts to trim the herd appear to have made our roadways safer — there are significantly fewer deer-related accidents and fatalities on our roadways in recent years — and that’s important. As for the rest — it’s mostly a matter of perspective.
Interested parties likely always will disagree about whether the herd is too large or too small. Every community where deer are a problem also must weigh its own policies going forward. Deer management always will be about balance, not about right or wrong.
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