Deer harvest down 23 percent since 2006
Jefferson County Park and Southeast Iowa reported fewer harvested deer in 2012.
Iowa’s Department of Natural Resources website, www.iowa.dnr.gov, reports the state’s deer harvest declined for the seventh straight year, and was down 23 percent from its high in 2006.
“We had only two does taken by hunters,” said Shawn Morrissey, operations and natural resource manager with Jefferson County Conservation. “We didn’t have many hunters participate, and the doe population in the park is down.”
Morrissey said deer hunters in Jefferson County Park’s 200 acres are restricted to archery.
“We began a hunting season in the park six years ago,” said Morrissey. “Hunters harvested 40 deer that first year. It’s averaged eight to 10 deer a year in those past years, but this year was down.
“The park has fewer deer,” he said. “Hunting has had a little bit of success in reducing the herd.”
Jefferson County Conservation issues doe tags during hunting season, a population control measure used throughout Iowa.
“We have a system where someone who bags three does in a season can purchase a tag the next season for a non-doe,” said Morrissey.
Neighborhoods immediately surrounding Jefferson County Park, such as the city of Fairfield, have not seen a decrease in deer population, Morrissey said.
“I’ve talked with a lot of hunters in Washington and Keokuk counties and the consensus is so many does have been harvested in the past years, some areas no longer have a large enough herd to hunt,” said Jason Gritsch, wildlife biologist in Sigourney.
Gritsch said the DNR will make recommendations to lower the number of doe tags offered to get some balance in Iowa’s deer herds.
The recommendation needs the governor’s approval.
“I know hunting tag quotas did not sell out in this region this year,” Grisch added.
The DNR website reports 115,606 deer harvested statewide in 2012, a 5 percent decline from 2011.
Deer hunters purchased 378,447 licenses, nearly 14,500 fewer than in 2011.
Reasons for the decline include the elimination of the three-day November anterless season, a shortening of the January anterless season and reduced anterless license quotas in some counties, according to the DNR.
Deer hunting is a big business in Iowa, providing an economic impact of nearly $214 million, paying more than $15 million in federal taxes and nearly $15 million in state taxes, reports the DNR.
Deer hunting in Iowa supports more than 2,800 jobs and provides more than $67 million in earnings.