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Bill calls for study of Iowa deer herd’s impact on property, car wrecks

DES MOINES — A bill that has cleared the Iowa Senate would set up a new January hunting season for deer, but only in counties where all the state licenses for harvesting antlerless deer were not sold.

The bill would let deer hunters use long-barreled rifles during that period. “The purpose of this season is not to hunt for sport, but rather to manage the size of the herd,” Senator Ken Rozenboom said, “which is why more efficient and effective firearms are being authorized.”

Rozenboom’s bill also calls on the Iowa Insurance Division, the Iowa DOT, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and Iowa State University to complete a study of the state’s deer herd by the fall of 2023, “to get a thorough look at the overall deer population and it’s impact on crops, on trees (and) property loss, medical costs and fatalities due vehicle accidents with deer,” he said.

Rozenboom, who is from Oskaloosa, said during Senate debate this week that this won’t be the last bill he sponsors on the subject.

“I have become convinced that the deer population in parts of the state, including in my senate district, that those populations are sometimes out of control,” Rozenboom said, “or out of balance anyway.”

The bill also significantly cuts the civil fine for hunters caught illegally shooting an antlerless deer. The Iowa Farm Bureau supports the legislation, arguing deer are damaging and eating crops. Groups including Pheasants Forever, the Iowa Bow Hunters Association, the Iowa Conservation Alliance and the State Police Officers Council oppose the bill.

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