New deer hunting restrictions for Iowa aimed at culling diseased whitetails

New deer hunting restrictions for Iowa aimed at culling diseased whitetails

Iowa will reduce the number of tags it offers deer hunters as part of its effort to maintain the state’s deer population while combating animal illnesses such as chronic wasting disease.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources approved the move and it was finalized at a recent legislative administrative rules meeting. It should not result in a reduction in the number of antlerless deer hunted in the state. Iowa had a surplus of the tags — permit-like approval that’s put on each harvested animal — last year that is expected to hold up. Instead the reduction — which is achieved through cutting the deer tag quota in some counties and adding to it in others — is a strategic move to better respond to the impacts or potential impacts of disease on white-tailed deer.


Chronic wasting disease is a neurological condition that affects primarily deer and elk and can take years to manifest. It attacks the brains of infected animals and causes a range of symptoms, including abnormal behavior. DNR spokesman Alex Murphy said there is no known cure for the disease, which has been recorded in more than 20 states and two Canadian provinces.


Hunters reported harvesting a little over 100,000 whitetails during the 2016 hunting season. That’s in line with a stable deer population in Iowa and one that’s improved recently. Twelve deer harvested last hunting season tested positive for chronic wasting disease, according to DNR data. All positive samples came from northeast Iowa in two counties that will increase the tag quota. The department will change quotes in a total of 22 counties by either reducing or increasing them. That will ultimately result in a decrease of deer tags available in the state, from a little over 74,500 to just over 72,100 for antlerless deer hunting that begins in September and runs through early next year.


Roughly 10,000 deer tags available in Iowa were not claimed in 2016, and a surplus is still expected with the decrease in available tags. Some counties with new higher quotas have previously sold out, an indication that the number of claimed deer tags could go up under the new guidelines.

The Natural Resource Commission within the department, which voted on the reduction, also agreed to rules connected to a new law approved by the Legislature this year that will allow hunters to use rifles that can fire straight walled cartridges. Such cartridges usually are considered pistol ammunition in .357 or larger.

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July 10, 2017 at 08:36PM


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