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Iowa hunters harvest nearly 95,000 deer from the 2019-20 seasons

This news story was published on February 18, 2020.
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DES MOINES – Hunters reported harvesting nearly 94,000 deer during Iowa’s 2019-2020 hunting seasons, which is a decline from 2018-19, when hunters reported nearly 108,000 deer.

Wildlife experts say while there are a number of factors that likely contributed to the decline, the most prominent is the outbreak of hemorrhagic disease that killed thousands of deer across the state. It was the second largest outbreak of hemorrhagic disease in Iowa, behind only the 2012/13 outbreak, and the reduced harvest is consistent with that following the 2013 outbreak.

Tyler Harms, wildlife biologist with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR), said one of the department’s best population survey tools is the bow hunter observation survey where bow hunters record the number of deer and other wildlife species they observe each day from their treestand. The survey is conducted from Oct. 1 through the opening of first shotgun season.

“The lower harvest corresponds with fewer deer bow hunters reported in their survey, and while the impact from hemorrhagic disease may have contributed to some of that decline, our hunters are also conservationists and if they perceive a drop in the deer population, they will make a decision on whether or not to kill more deer. This year, many of them decided not to,” Harms said.

Information from Iowa DNR

The Iowa DNR manages the deer herd to support a harvest of 100,000 to 120,000 deer that was based on the recommendations from the legislatively mandated deer advisory committee.

“Our deer population has rebounded after hemorrhagic outbreaks in the past and we expect the same will be true after this outbreak,” Harms said. “From our perspective, we manage the population for the long term and impacts from this year – while significant – are likely a short blip on the horizon.

Meanwhile, test results are in, chronic wasting disease has been found in four new counties
Chronic wasting disease has been confirmed in wild deer from Woodbury, Winneshiek, Fayette and Decatur counties this year, bringing the total number of counties in Iowa where wild deer have tested positive to eight.

“We will schedule meetings in these areas in the next few months to discuss chronic wasting disease, our response and the role hunters play in helping us to manage for this disease,” said Tyler Harms, wildlife biologist with the Iowa DNR.

In the past, the DNR has set up a surveillance zone around where the positive deer was taken, then works with hunters to increase the number of samples collected within the zone to get a better idea of the extent to which the disease is on the ground.

“Early detection is key,” Harms said. “We want to increase the surveillance in close proximity to the positive deer to hopefully catch any other positives in the area. In these surveillance zones, we want to manage our deer herd toward the lower end of our population goal to help slow disease transmission.”

The Iowa DNR submitted nearly 7,000 deer tissue samples for testing from hunter harvested or road killed deer collected statewide in the 2019-2020 season that resulted in 43 positive wild deer.

“While the number of positives this year jumps out, it’s not out of the realm of what we would expect,” Harms said.

The Iowa DNR contacted all hunters with a positive deer and offered the opportunity to come collect the deer meat, hide and other animal parts or were provided other options for carcass disposal. The Centers for Disease Control advises against consuming animals that have tested positive for disease.

Hunters play an important role in preventing the spread of this disease by not using feed or salt-mineral licks that increase the concentration of deer, which can spread disease.

Hunters who harvest a deer in a county known to have chronic wasting disease but who live in a county where the disease has not been found, should bone out their deer and either leave the carcass on the land where it was harvested or disposed of within that county. Contact the local landfill for requirements. Make absolutely sure not to transport and dump carcasses outside of the area where the deer were shot as this will spread the disease to new areas.

The Iowa DNR samples deer from every county with increased sample quotas set in areas where the disease has been confirmed or where it has been confirmed across the border in neighboring states.

The Iowa DNR has been testing deer for chronic wasting disease since 2002. The first positive was in 2013 near Harpers Ferry in Allamakee County. To date, there have been 89 positive wild deer.

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8 Responses to Iowa hunters harvest nearly 95,000 deer from the 2019-20 seasons

  1. Buzz Crumcutter Reply Report comment

    February 21, 2020 at 9:01 am

    A few things which weren’t mentioned in this article are; last fall the number of deer licenses for non-resident hunters were cut. In some areas, those numbers were fairly significant. Doe tags have been reduced for some time now too in our area counties. And maybe more importantly, some of our State Legislators, see fit to try and run rough shod over the Iowa DNR, and micro-manage its actions.

  2. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    February 19, 2020 at 2:45 pm

    I really don’t know a damn thing about how to manage the deer population, do you, really!!!

    • Anonymous Reply Report comment

      February 20, 2020 at 8:22 am

      hunting license will do it, if people aren’t to lazy to hunt

  3. Just the facts Reply Report comment

    February 19, 2020 at 4:58 am

    And I still have herds in my yard. Shit beads everywhere and eat everything in sight.

  4. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    February 18, 2020 at 9:16 am

    10 years ago, hunters harvested 150.000 deer.
    soon, the dnr will sell no license because they will be gone just like the pheasant.
    nothing to hunt, no need to buy a license

    • Anonymous Reply Report comment

      February 18, 2020 at 10:13 am

      Your not going to find to many pheasant from your vehicle. Every time they tell me that pheasant populations are so low. Hunters tell me there are no pheasants. I guess, because I never hunted out of my vehicle, I never saw the lack of birds.

      3 years ago I had to stop and wait for a deer herd to cross the road, I stopped counting near 150. Yes in North Iowa. Get out of the truck, go where the deer go, you will find lots of them.

      • Anonymous Reply Report comment

        February 19, 2020 at 12:32 pm

        Its not rocket science, 25-30 years ago, the dnr sold 5 times the license they do today. The state was full of out of state hunters. The hotels, motels, restaurant’s were all packed.
        Farming practices and poor state management have left nothing. The groves, the railroad tracks, the ditches,the water ways are all gone, and so are the birds. There is no argument, that’s a pure old fact.
        Now, the question is, will the DNR do the same with the deer herd? They have allowed people to slaughter the deer here in mason city. The statewide harvest is down some 40%. The deer numbers are down the same amount. Sorry, this is not even a argument. Its just facts, and yes, I am in the countryside hunting 50-60 days a year! I do know 1st hand.

    • Just the facts Reply Report comment

      February 19, 2020 at 7:46 am

      I’ll be happy then!