Cedar Rapids bow hunt nabs more deer than a year ago

Since program inception, vehicle-deer collisions reduced by 57 percent, official says

Rick Smith
Published: January 22 2014 | 3:46 pm - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 2:30 am in

Forty-five bow hunters shot 171 deer in Cedar Rapids during the city’s annual urban hunt, which began Sept. 14 and ended on Sunday.

The deer number was higher than the previous year, when those participating in the city bow hunt shot 163 deer, the fewest number since the hunt began inside the Cedar Rapids city limits in the fall of 2005.

This year’s deer-taken number is less than half the number of the peak year for the hunt, in 2007, when bow hunters killed 349 deer inside the city limits.

The 5-percent increase in deer taken from last year comes in a year when the Iowa Department of Natural Resources has estimated that the number of deer taken statewide will total about 100,000, a 15,000 drop from a year ago.

Tim Thompson, a DNR wildlife biologist in Iowa City, on Wednesday said special urban bow hunts like Cedar Rapids’ are designed to reduce the number of deer that have come to use cities as safe havens so they aren’t shot during the state deer hunt outside of cities.

"You get the numbers down somewhat, and then you’re going into a maintenance-type mode just to try to keep them at the levels you want them," Thompson said.

The rules of the Cedar Rapids hunt require it to concentrate on does, which typically deliver two fawns each year and triplets in about 15 percent of the births, Thompson said.

This year, 148 of the 171 deer taken in the city bow hunt were does with 15 young button bucks and eight bucks. Successful hunters in a previous hunt can qualify for a permit to shoot a buck in the Cedar Rapids hunt if they shoot five does in one year.

Bert Carmer, who has been an avid participant in the Cedar Rapids hunt, on Wednesday said hunters here now have taken more than 2,000 does from the city since the hunt began in 2005, which has worked to noticeably reduce the number of deer in the city as intended, he said.

"That has prevented a lot of injuries (from vehicle-deer crashes) and has saved millions of dollars in property damage," Carmer of northeast Cedar Rapids said.

Carmer, who shot five does and one buck in this year’s hunt, said the Cedar Rapids hunt should continue, but he said it should increase the incentive for hunters so they can shoot a buck in the next year if they get three does in one year instead of the current requirement of five.

Carmer said the Cedar Rapids hunt has had more than 125 hunters in its early years, but this year only 83 signed up, with only 45 actually shooting a deer, according to the city’s hunt statistics.

The DNR’s Thompson said fewer hunters participate in a hunt as deer numbers decline because it becomes more difficult to shoot a deer.

"It’s just natural if the program is working," Thompson said. "They’re still hunting, they’re not getting as many deer, but the city still won’t get the deer-vehicle accidents like we did before the hunt started."

Most of the 171 deer were shot in three of eight hunt zones in the city: 58 were from northeast Cedar Rapids west of Interstate 380 and north of the Cedar River; 44 were from southeast Cedar Rapids east of New Bohemia, south of Mount Vernon Road and north of the Cedar River; and 31 were from southwest Cedar Rapids south of 16th Avenue SW.

On Wednesday, Fire Capt. Jason Andrews, who managed this year’s hunt for the city, said the hunt has reduced vehicle-deer collisions by 57 percent inside the city since the program’s inception in 2005.

"We believe that the multiyear trend toward reduced collisions involving deer will continue," Andrews said.

At the same time, he said the city plans to commission an aerial deer count in the next several weeks to get a new deer count if the city receives at least four inches of new snow to help spot deer from the air.

"However, based on the reduced number of complaints from citizens, it seems that the deer management program is working as it was intended," Andrews said.

Meat from 28 deer from the 171 killed this year in Cedar Rapids was donated to food programs with meat from the rest of the deer kept by the hunters for personal use, according to city figures.

No one was injured in this year’s Cedar Rapids hunt, Greg Buelow, the city’s public-safety spokesman, said on Wednesday.

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