What is the Urban Deer Bowhunt Program?
In 1996, the Polk County Deer Task Force was formed to study the impact of the growing deer population in Polk County and make recommendations to local citizens and governments. Approximately 20 men and women make up the Task Force and represent various city, state, and county governments, as well as civic and community organizations.
Committee members conducted aerial surveys of the urban deer populations, tagged and/or radio collared deer to monitor geographic dispersion and mortality, erected deer exclosures to study the effect of browsing on natural vegetation, and studied 10 possible deer management options for the Polk County region.
Resulting from this research came a request to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources for a special "deer management zone" that allows additional deer (antlerless only) to be harvested in the western two-thirds of Polk County.
Why are we Concerned?
When deer populations exceed 20 deer per square mile, overbrowsing of the natural vegetation can lead to destruction of the forest understory, including wildflowers and woody vegetation. Without this native vegetative habitat, songbirds and many other species of wildlife may not be able to remain in the area.
Deer browsing on shrubbery and flowers in yards can destroy overnight what a homeowner spent a great deal of time and money to plant. Deer browsing can also damage agricultural crops and other commercially-grown vegetation, such as Christmas trees.
Deer-vehicle collisions have increased by two-thirds in Polk County during the last 20 years. In addition to the personal injuries that result, the cost of repairing and replacing motor vehicles involved in collisions is high.
What If We Do Nothing?
The population of the white-tailed deer in certain areas of Polk County has already reached a point where natural areas are being damaged and biodiversity threatened. The negative impact on people of deer-vehicle collisions and destruction of landscaping increases as deer populations grow.
If left unchecked, deer populations can double every three to four years. The Polk County Deer Task Force believes that management plans must be put in place to control, and in some areas reduce, the size of the deer herd in urban and suburban areas of Polk County. At the same time, the Deer Task Force will actively work to educate the citizens of Polk County on ways of minimizing potential problems caused by deer.
The alternative of "doing nothing" and allowing deer herds to grow unchecked is not acceptable for it would lead to increasingly negative consequences for our natural areas and for the people of Polk County.
The Polk County Deer Task Force is committed to maintaining and preserving the white-tailed deer population in Polk County at ecologically-acceptable levels.