Iowa City looks to use sharpshooting to thin deer population - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Iowa City looks to use sharpshooting to thin deer population

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IOWA CITY (KWWL) -

 The Iowa City City Council has moved forward with plans to lower its deer population.

For a decade the city worked to control its deer population, but after seeing results in dwindling numbers, the city stopped managing it in 2010. Now, a study has found that the city's white-tailed deer population is three times what it was nearly a decade ago.

From 1999 to 2009, the city contracted White Buffalo Inc. to sharp shoot the deer to thin the population. In 2010, the city stopped doing so, citing the population was at a reasonable level.

During a city council meeting on March 6, the council addressed the issue of deer management. Nuisance calls and public safety were concerns at the forefront.

A petition was brought to the city by Tony Wobeter with signatures from him and his neighbors of the Bluffwood Neighborhood in the northeast side of town. In it, the petition claimed the deer were becoming a nuisance in the area, as well as a safety hazard.

Long-time resident of the neighborhood, Mark Smellie, said he and his wife signed the petition -- but with mixed feelings.

"We don't find them to be much of a safety problem but they are chewing a lot of peoples landscaping and that's important to a lot of people. It's a mixed bag," he said.

Smellie said it's not uncommon for him to see deer in his backyard but he doesn't take issue with them eating his plants, but he understands how other neighbors might.

Iowa City police said since 2010, the number of deer complaints have gone up but more alarming is the public safety concerns.

"Car collisions or near car collisions are the biggest thing we're seeing as far as public safety. It causes property damage. It can cause injuries. Whatever we can do to avoid that, we would like to do," Iowa City Sergeant, Derek Frank, said.

In 2010, when the city stopped its deer efforts, their was just 29 accidents involving deer. Since then, that number has ticked upwards, reaching 51 in 2016 and 49 in 2017. In 1999, there were 103 recorded deer collisions before population control went into effect.

Other cities in the state use bow hunting for deer control but the city will look to bring in sharpshooters again.

"The population in Iowa City is currently so big that we wouldn't be able to reduce the number in a timely manner so sharp shooting, along with being quicker to get the herd down, it would also be more humane," Frank said.

The city council hopes to begin the thinning process in the fall.

Before then they will have to get permission from the Natural Resources Commission. The next step would be to hire a professional private contractor, like they did with White Buffalo Inc.

When the city previously used White Buffalo Inc. it said the meat was given to the Crisis Center.

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