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Urban deer hunting kicks off Saturday

September 14, 2012
By DAVID ALEXANDER - Staff Writer ( , Times-Republican

Anyone who has ever driven to work early on a fall morning or tried to keep a garden knows that deer can blight a city.

To help curb the deer population, each year since 2009 the Marshalltown City Council allows bow hunters to hunt within the city limits.

Garry Brandenburg, retired director of the conservation board, said a one-year-old doe will typically have twins and about 10 percent will have triplets.

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To curb the swelling deer population, Marshalltown bow hunters with the proper permit will be allowed to hunt in the city. Urban deer hunting opens Saturday.

"The potential population growth for deer is huge," he said. "If we do nothing we all have to live with the consequences of a deer herd that is going to grow and grow and grow."

Those consequences include not just a nuisance for gardeners, but also a hazard for drivers as deer begin to wander into the streets, which, he said, they typically do at dusk and dawn. During the fall months, people tend to drive more often at those times.

In particular, deer collisions are more prevalent this time of year on Highway 330, said Marshall County Chief Deputy Burt Tecklenburg. However, overall, he said the deer population has shrunk in the past few years.

"We do more than our fair share of deer accident reports," he said. "They cause a lot of property damage."

In order for the city to allow licensed bow hunters to hunt deer in the city, hunters must meet a plethora of requirements.

First, they must pass a hunter safety course and pass a $20 online International Bow Hunter Education Foundation course, which typically takes between four and five hours, said Chad Weir, recreation superintendent with Marshalltown Parks and Recreation.

Then, hunters must print the voucher they receive, take it to Parks and Recreation and undergo a four-hour, hands-on field day. Hunters must hit 80 percent of targets - 10 targets at 20 yards and 10 targets at 80 yards - during a proficiency test.

Bill Bunger, depredation biologist with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, said deer become problematic because many of their natural predators like coyotes, bears and mountain lions are scarce.

"Animals like raccoons and deer find places like urban areas to be a safe place," he said.

Additionally, he said, deer begin to learn that hunters are a threat and gravitate away from areas where predators are prevalent.

Hunters must have written permission from property owners to hunt on their properties, which they must carry with them, Weir said.

When Parks and Recreation issues each hunter a permit to put in their vehicle so that police and neighborhood residents know who is hunting where.

Bunger said each zone in town has a quota that stipulates how many deer hunters can kill. The success rate for hunters is slightly higher than in the wilderness, he added.

But Brandenburg said it is far from easy to kill deer in the city.

"It is not going to disbelieve its nose or its eyes," he said. "Just because they are living in someone's rose bushes or something doesn't mean they will forget their instincts."

Although urban bow hunting is usually reserved for doe, this year, Weir said, three buck incentive permits are available. To be issued a buck permit, hunters must have already killed three doe.

Permits are available for $13 at The General Store, 113 E. Church St. As of Thursday afternoon, 35 permits were available.

Urban deer hunting opens Saturday.



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