Letter to the editor: An open letter to the Iowa City Council regarding ‘deer management’

Warning: This article contains graphic images of dead deer.

A deer bait site in Oakland Cemetery, February 2020. — courtesy of the Iowa City Deer Friends

By Dawn Frary, Iowa City

Dear City Council members,

I am a resident of the Northside neighborhood in Iowa City, as well as a founding member of the Iowa City Deer Friends. I just returned from a walk in Oakland Cemetery, where I discovered a White Buffalo bait site set up behind the maintenance shed/garage near the gate between St. Joseph Cemetery and Oakland Cemetery. This site is literally yards from the front doors of families in my neighborhood, where shots can easily be heard and the aftermath — blood-soaked ground (which will only be more obvious due to snow cover), deer fur and bloody tissue, all of which I discovered at another Oakland bait site during the previous round of sharpshooting — will be on display for all who pass by to see. And as someone who frequents the cemetery for recreation and exercise, I know firsthand that many, many residents of this area pass by that spot and will be exposed to a grisly scene indeed.

A deer carcass found in the Terry Trueblood Recreation Area in Iowa City, December 2019. — courtesy of the Iowa City Deer Friends

I’m sure you’re aware that members of the Iowa City Deer Friends encountered two deer carcasses that had been shot in the head and back, respectively, at the Terry Trueblood Recreation Area in December 2019. The bodies of these deer were found near a playground, left to decompose and be ravaged by other wildlife in plain sight. This raises immense concern because White Buffalo’s contract stipulates that all deer corpses must be removed from the scene; and yet they claim to not have killed any deer in that area. This means either White Buffalo is not being truthful in their practices or, worse, that there are rogue killers prowling our parks, taking advantage of the sharpshooting free-for-all, killing indiscriminately and leaving animals to rot in the open. This is a waste of a precious life and a disgrace to our town, not to mention horribly irresponsible and dangerous.

To my knowledge, the information about the deer corpses found at TTRA has not been made public. Iowa Citians deserve to know what is going on: that there are potentially armed, off-the-grid killers roaming the spaces in our city that should be safe.

I hope the fact that you had the power to prevent this from occurring but did nothing to stop it keeps you up at night. I hope it fills you with regret and shame. It should. Your job is to represent the people of Iowa City, but instead you have chosen to represent the interests of government agencies who will profit from savage brutality and murder.

Remains of another deer, found in the Terry Trueblood Recreation Area, December 2019. — courtesy of the Iowa City Deer Friends

I am usually proud to call Iowa City home. Iowa City has historically been a progressive, liberal and thoughtful oasis in, for the most part, a sea of conservative small towns. In most cases we can point to Iowa City as a beacon of hope, an example of a higher evolved community. Instead I am disgusted and ashamed that my city has been forced to cater to the lowest common denominator. We are better than this.

This is why Iowa gets labeled as a backward-thinking, uncivilized, uneducated flyover wasteland.

Shame on you.

A wound site on a dead deer found at Terry Trueblood Recreation Area in Iowa City. — courtesy of the Iowa City Deer Friends

The photo above was added to the article on Feb. 5.

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