Friday, October 13, 2006

IOWA NEWS: Hunting on Campus-University of Iowa

For the first time, sharpshooting will be allowed on the University of Iowa campus this winter.

Last year, UI officials did not allow sharpshooting anterless deer on their west campus, the area west of Finkbine Golf Course along Melrose Avenue, because authorization by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources didn't coincide with UI's winter break schedule, said Kathryn Johansen, administrative assistant to the city manager.

"They were concerned that the students would be on campus," said Johansen, who also assists the city's Deer Task Force.

The last day of UI's fall semester is Dec. 15 and spring classes reconvene Jan. 16, 2007.

"We were assured that there was no danger related to people in the area," UI director of campus and facilities management Rod Lehnertz said. "I know that the city, in working with this program, is exceptionally careful about the planning. There's no doubt to the UI that the situation will be completely ... one, organized, and two, safe."

The sharpshooting will de done by Tony DeNicola of White Buffalo Inc. The Hamden, Conn.-based non-profit wildlife management firm has been working with the city since 1999. Iowa City became the first and only community in the state in 1999 to manage its deer population through sharpshooting.

City manager Steve Atkins said efforts to keep the city's deer population down have been limited until now.

"The issue has been that we had received a number of requests from residents, but we weren't able to accommodate them because we couldn't shoot on UI property," Atkins said.

As in previous years, sharpshooting will take place within city limits, including North Dubuque Street, North Dodge Street, Rochester Avenue, the Peninsula area near Foster Road and Scott Boulevard. Areas west of Finkbine Golf Course and areas east of Clear Creek, which has portions falling under UI and Coralville jurisdictions, had been forbidden in the past.

However, Southgate Development does not allow sharpshooting west of the Walnut Ridge subdivision, which is west of Camp Cardinal Boulevard.

"That greatly hampers our ability to remove deer in the Walnut Ridge area, but hopefully UI access will cover some of that," DeNicola said.

DeNicola said he didn't know how many deer would be killed on UI property.

Last year, the DNR recommended that 192 anterless deer be killed to meet the goal of having less than 30 deer per square mile in one year.

Unless given permission, DeNicola and his crew cannot be any closer than 150 feet of an occupied structure -- a home or garage -- when they shoot.

Meat from the deer kill will be processed and distributed to charitable groups and the public.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

INDIANA NEWS: Hunt Scheduled for Indiana Dunes State Park

Hunters will converge on the Indiana Dunes State Park four times before the year is out to thin the overpopulated deer herd there.

According to Russ Grunden, spokesman for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, the deer culls will be Nov. 13 and 14 and Dec. 4 and 5. The park will be closed to visitors during that time, Grunden said.

In general, hunting is forbidden in state parks. But in 1994, the General Assembly passed legislation allowing for controlled hunts at state parks to protect the ecosystems there.

Controlled hunts at the Indiana Dunes State Park began in 1998 when scientists determined certain species of plants there were being depleted or vanishing because of overgrazing by the growing deer herd.

With less food to go around, the deer were also becoming thin and malnourished, sometimes resorting to chewing on tree bark and damaging their teeth.

Since 1998, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources has evaluated the need for hunts on an annual basis. Volunteer hunters, who apply to participate in the culls, helped thin the herd in 2000, 2001, 2003 and 2004.

Last year, the state determined hunts would not be necessary because the park was not being overgrazed.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

IOWA NEWS: Ames Residents Oppose Hunting In City Parks

Hundreds of Ames residents are opposing an ordinance allowing bow hunters to kill deer in city parks.

A group of about 10 people calling themselves Ames Citizens for Non-Lethal Urban Deer Management obtained more than 350 signatures on a petition opposing the plan in just five days.

Ames city officials began examining the issue more than a year ago after 36 residents signed a petition in favor of deer management by bow hunting.

An ordinance establishing the city’s first bow hunting season was passed unanimously for the third time on Sept. 26. The opponents want the ordinance repealed.

The season officially opened Oct. 1. So far, only one urban bow hunting permit has been issued, said police Sgt. Brian Braymen. Rising deer-vehicle accidents were used as proof that something needed to be done.

However, Alicia Carriquiry, professor of statistics at Iowa State University, said Iowa Department of Transportation crash data shows that 85 percent of wildlife-vehicle accidents have occurred on the outskirts of the city in the past 10 years.

Conversely, less than four percent of the crashes have occurred near the deer management zones established by the city, she said. “It’s absurd,” said Carriquiry.

The group said other alternatives can be used to reduce deer-vehicle accidents, such as fencing along roads where deer typically cross and more warning signs.

Carriquiry said some petitioners have expressed fear of using parks where bow hunting is now allowed. The city has offered free orange vests to residents and their dogs and has posted informational signs at each park eligible for hunting. “There are some people who are truly, truly scared,” Carriquiry said.