Letter to the editor: Keep bow hunting out of Iowa City

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A white-tailed deer. — Jill Rogan/Flickr

Allison N. Jaynes, Iowa City

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is clearly concerned with one thing only: to keep cashing in on the fees from hunting licenses.

Council members from Iowa City approached the DNR on Thursday, Dec. 13 to ask for a permit to conduct a professional sharpshoot within city limits to control the deer population, which it believes has grown out of bounds. The DNR summarily denied the permit without much explanation, except to say they hoped Iowa City would open its doors to amateur bow hunting. Yes, this approach benefits the DNR by way of profits from licenses. But can you imagine amateur hunters from out of town patrolling backyards and Hickory Hill park with crossbows?

Deer hunted with bows are often wounded instead of killed by the shot, thus slowly dying from painful infections. I don’t believe Iowa City residents would be OK with wounded deer bleeding out in their yards, or with hunters roaming around even on adjacent lots where property owners have sanctioned the hunting. The alternative is obvious: the Council should pursue non-lethal methods of control (sterilization) that have been effective in other communities such as Clifton, Ohio.

Please urge the Iowa City Council to back an innovative deer sterilization plan, and keep Iowa City forward-thinking and environmentally responsible.

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  1. This is another issue where we need local control. Why did the NRC require IC to have a public meeting about the issue? Apparently the NRC/DNR had already decided on bow hunting and the wishes of the Iowa City city council and citizens did not matter to them. If a quick reduction in the number of deer is required, then use sharpshooters and then work toward a sterilization program. Bow hunting is the least humane choice and it should not be forced on the community.

  2. I’m a 65 year old lifelong outdoorsman, qualified here in the Twin Cities to bowhunt in sensitive suburban areas under a practical and effective metro deer management program. While I’ve never been contacted to assist, the program is safe for all concerned and well administered – I am aware of no problems ever reported in local media or DNR communication. It’s been completely successful.
    Since humans have expanded into and created additional wildilfe habitat, and also have displaced natural predators capable of controlling deer population, we are by default responsible for herd management.
    Allowing and supervising archery hunting by tested and certified archers is about as practical a solution is might be found.
    To the point in the article about less than instant archery kills; It is often, unfortunately, true. However, I can’t imagine those deer expiring from infection; they bleed out from fatal wounds or sometimes survive. Those instances of unrecovered game break a sportsman’s heart, and I know of no archer that would give up recovery efforts unsuccessfully in a suburban context, where the deer could be found in almost any circumstance.
    In closing, consider the other ways deer die. Traffic, starvation, firearms hunting, disease, and coyotes. I’d say conscientious archery hunting in a regulated process is as good a solution as might be found.

    1. Living outside of Iowa City but close to the metropolitan area, I have a herd of over 40 deer. There is no way, unless Allison would like to provide the funds to feed them; that these deer will not starve throughout the winter. It is not about fees nor some great conspiracy. The balance is off- too many deer trying to find food in areas taken over by humans. If the DNR wanted to raise sooo much money – why are hunters limited to 1 tag? The population needs to be culled for the deers health.

  3. This is not correct at all actually most deer are dead with in 10 to 15 minutes at the most with the shot if it is a bad shot.

    1. Bow hunting publications make clear the slow and agonizing deaths involved with bow hunts.

      Excerpt from IMB Monster Bucks:

      “The hunter always needs to take his or her weapon on the tracking of the whitetail deer that has been hit as a follow up shot may be required. Tracking can go on for a long time. Think if you were hit with an arrow. You probably wouldn’t react by coolly and concisely staying on a trail when exiting the hunt area or where weapon impact occurred.

      I shot a nice 150 class buck which folded and fell to the ground within visual site of the tree stand. When this happens the whitetail hunter needs to remain quiet and watch the deer to see his reactions. Don’t get down from the stand and approach the animal to get another shot. Let nature take its course or [your] running the risk of losing your trophy whitetail deer. This particular deer lived for many hours and would lift his head on occasions.

      Whitetail Deer Shot in the Liver or Kidneys: My first experience with a liver shot deer was in Illinois. The track began with purple blood and thanks to an experienced hunter that was accompanying me we immediately stopped tracking the deer and went into town for dinner and some soda. Liver shot deer can take up to 5 hours to pass on.

      Normally gut shot deer will hunch up just as if they were holding their stomach if they had arms with a tummy ache. Archers with arrows smelling of intestines or have feces on the arrow are obviously gut shot whitetail deer. Once a hunter determines that a deer is gut shot you must simply mark the last blood and back out for up to 12 hours. Normally gut shot deer will head for water to reduce fevers accompanied with a gut shot. Sometimes gut shot deer are only recovered by watching local ravens, crows, and buzzards as they circle the carcass days later. Look as long as you can. It often times does result in the recovery of a trophy animal.”

      This form of “recreation” is not representative of the majority of Iowa City citizens.

      1. How long does it take to die from starvation or freezing to death? Would it be agonizing? How long does it take to die from being eaten by a coyote rump first? How many die on highways? Are your follow townspeople willing to forgo operating vehicles from dusk to dawn to prevent a possible long agonizing death of a deer?

  4. Why are people, who proclaim to be in favor of conserving and promoting wildlife, so opposed to the allowing the DNR to generate funds while simultaneously carrying out game management. The DNR is responsible for conservation, habitat development/protection and management of the wildlife in the state. You should be happy that a cash strapped agency has identified an opportunity to generate funds that will help them carry out their charter while promoting a healthy deer population. As with wildlife management agencies in every state and the federal level, the VAST MAJORITY of their funding comes directly from hunters and fishermen. Not only that but their management plans depend directly on hunting to succeed. I don’t see the opponents of this plan lining up to donate their paychecks to the DNR to fund their conservation efforts any time soon. Of course if you would rather create a boom/bust population cycle where entire heards suffer agonizing deaths from starvation or chronic wasting, then by all means take the scientifically ignorant hands off approach.

    As for “out of town hunters”. As long as they are qualified for an urban bow season and practice the basics of responsible hunting, why do you care where they are from? Is Iowa City’s “walled city on the hill” mentality really that out of control? Your disdain for the people you share this state with is palpable.

    1. Hunters have paid for approximately three-tenths of a percent (0.3%) of the lands in our National Wildlife Refuges. State wildlife management lands are partially funded by hunting license sales but also funded by monies from the states’ general budgets as well as Pittman-Robertson Act funds, which come from an excise tax on the sales of firearms and ammunition. The Pittman-Robertson funds get distributed to states and may be used for land acquisition, but these funds come mostly from non-hunters because most gun owners do not hunt.

  5. Hunting may have played an important role, next to plant gathering and scavenging, for human survival in prehistoric times, but the vast majority of modern hunters in developed countries kill animals for recreation.

    Iowa news outlets have quoted DNR officials as testifying to the ineffectiveness of bow hunting for deer management.

    “Following several years of urban bow hunts in Muscatine, when twice as many deer were taken than the previous year, but the herd grew by more than a third, DNR depradation biologist, Greg Harris, said he didn’t have an explanation for the unexpected growth. “We kaaaind of heard the same thing from Cedar Rapids last year,” he said.” (Muscatine Journal)

    “When Bettendorf resident, Jeanne Elliott, documented the deer population destroying vegetation despite bow hunts since 2009, DNR’s Harris said, “We are doing our best to work within the constraints and laws we have.” Harris has since given Elliott other options, such as building a fence.” (Quad-City Times)

    A major study comparing data on archery and gun wounding losses gathered at four wildlife management areas by Texas wildlife biologists, Glen Boydston and Horace Gore, revealed that bow hunt wounding and crippling losses are inevitable. Experienced bow hunters wound more deer than novices (novice archers usually miss animals entirely). The study showed that for every deer killed and recovered, at least one or more deer were wounded and left to die a slow and painful death that lasted up to months. Horace Gore goes on to say, “You cannot call bow hunting a population control measure – it is a recreational pursuit [and] we do not advocate bow hunting when the objective is controlling the population.”

    As Dr. Allen T. Rutberg wrote in “The Science of Deer Management: An Animal Welfare Perspective,” “The most visible weakness in the assertion that hunting is necessary to control deer populations is that it has largely failed to do so over the last two decades. … Just because deer are being killed doesn’t mean that deer populations are being controlled.”

    1. You can spout off all you want about the ethics of hunting but there is one simple fact you can’t argue, hunters will do a million times more to keep animals healthy and herds sustainable than you ever will. They will pay more money for conservation via tags, licenses,and taxes on sporting goods than you will ever donate. Are you going to replace all the revenue these tags will generate for conservation? These animals left alone will die agonizing horrible deaths naturally. You’re not saving them any pain by eating soy beans or blocking hunters.

  6. “Deer hunted with bows are often wounded instead of killed by the shot, thus slowly dying from painful infections”

    This is a grossly false statement! I urge you to educate yourself a little more on the subject before saying something like this. As an archer my whole life, I can honestly say that if this were true, I’d never even consider attempting to harvest an animal with a bow! I understand your sentiment, but please keep your comments within your area of expertise!

    1. Corn is harvested. Deer are killed/slaughtered. Do not try and make what happens sound benign. We do way too much of that in our society when talking about the way animals are treated.

      1. No animals are killed when corn/grains/etc are harvested? Riiight. You might want to go out and follow a combine for a while.

  7. I think you some of the facts wrong about how cities conduct bow hunts. Hunters have to prove proficiency with their bow, cannot hunt on public land, have to get permission to hunt from the landowner and the neighbors, hunting is open to residents only. Wounded deer rarely die from infections, usually blood loss.

    Why would you pay for something that local residents would pay to do?

    To the article about ineffectiveness; bow hunting is not working as well as the municipality would like because there are enough deer being taken (ie. not enough hunters). Why not try it? Give it a couple of years and see what happens.

  8. I believe Coralville has conducted a bow hunt annually for years. I have not heard of any incidents and know several hunters who are qualified to do this and do it well. I come from a family of archers and they don’t do it for “recreation,” they do it to feed their families. It’s ridiculous to pay sharpshooters $500 per deer (or whatever they get) when there are well qualified area hunters. Venison can also likely be donated to local organizations and shelters. And really, deer are harvested whether you like the word or not.

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