CEDAR RAPIDS — Fewer bowhunters are participating in the city’s annual deer hunt, and hunters in the four-month-long season that ended Jan. 10 took fewer deer by far than in any of the previous nine hunts.
City officials on Tuesday said 37 of 74 bowhunters who qualified for the hunt killed 122 deer in this year’s hunt, compared to 45 of 83 qualified hunters who killed 171 deer a year ago in 2013.
In the peak year of 2007, hunters in the Cedar Rapids bowhunt killed 349 deer.
That compares to 298 in 2005; 333 in 2006; 314 in 2008; 312 in 2009; 207 in 2010; 182 in 2011; and 163 in 2012.
Tim Thompson, an Iowa Department of Natural Resources biologist in Iowa City, said the smaller deer harvest is mainly the result of the success of previous hunts.
The bowhunt targets does — which typically produce two fawns a year — to cut the deer population to levels that limit the number of vehicle-deer crashes and prevent deer from eating greenery around people’s homes, Thompson said.
He said the city of Cedar Rapids likely is losing deer habitat as the city grows, which also can lessen the deer population inside the city.
In addition, he said a drop in the deer population makes it more difficult for hunters to find deer, so they go elsewhere to hunt.
“It’s the law of supply and demand,” Thompson said.
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Deer hunting is permitted outside of cities in Iowa, and Thompson said it would be a mistake for the city to set aside its annual bowhunt. Such a move would once again turn Cedar Rapids into a refuge for deer, and the deer population would quickly rebound, he said.
Statewide, Thompson said deer numbers are where the DNR would like them to be, or “slightly below” the preferred level.
“In terms of finding a happy medium, we’re not getting complaints from farmers that we were getting five years ago,” he said.
Greg Buelow, Cedar Rapids’ public safety spokesman, said one hunter in this year’s hunt took eight deer.
Eleven hunters killed at least five does, which qualified them to attempt to kill a buck in next year’s hunt.
Since the start of the hunt in 2005, the city has seen a 57 percent reduction in the number of deer killed by vehicles, Buelow said.
He said 17 of the 122 deer killed this year were donated to help feed the hungry. The other 105 deer were kept by the hunters for personal consumption.