A proposed deer hunt in the Fort Dodge city limits next year was pushed back on Monday by the city council.
The council approved the second reading of the measure establishing archery hunting by a 5–2 vote. Council members Kim Alstott, Dave Flattery, Quenell McCaleb, Cameron Nelson and Lydia Schur voted yes. Councilors Neven Conrad and Terry Mohnke did not vote.
Conrad voted in favor of the measure when it appeared before the Council for a first reading on 25 July. It proceeded to a 6–1 vote at the time, with Mohanke not casting the vote alone. But Conrad did not vote on Monday. He said he has questions about how hunting success will be determined.
Three people addressed the council before voting on Monday.
“I believe it is unnecessary, immoral and ineffective,” Jason Beckman, who lives on North 14th Street, said.
Beckman said the city lacks “Deer Density Data” This would indicate whether Fort Dodge actually has a higher population of deer. Without that data, he said, the amount of prey offered “Killing a deer just to kill the deer.”
Beckman said the main complaint that comes up about deer is that they eat plants and flowers. He said that other animals also eat plants.
“What’s next – an urban bow hunt for rabbits?” He asked.
The proposed hunt would be limited to about 3,200 acres on the city’s northern, eastern and western sides, but Beckman said there is nothing to stop dead and dying deer from ending up in people’s yards.
“The gruesome reality is that an injured deer can run for 200 to 300 yards,” They said. “What do we do when injured deer end up in the yard?”
Beckman was also critical of the increasing responsibilities of deer hunting on the police department.
“I want our good Fort Dodge police officers to work on a gun case or drug case rather than testing the archer’s aptitude.” They said.
According to assistant city manager Ryan Mehl, work related to the hunt will be performed by the new community service officer and certified law enforcement officers will not be taken away from their duties.
Steve and Judith Rojek of Elizabeth Avenue spoke in favor of doing something about the deer population.
Steven Rozek said that 10 trees on his property have been lost to deer damage. He said that deer sleep in his yard.
“They look into the windows even at night,” They said.
Judith Rozek said that deer may attract coyotes to Fort Dodge.
Alstott said that after a July 25 council meeting, he went home from his North Seventh Street house to find a reindeer across the street. He said he has fed wild birds for years, but stopped doing so about three years ago because deer came into his yard and ate the bird’s seed.
“The DNR (Iowa Department of Natural Resources) said bow hunting works,” Alstott said. “It reduces the deer population.”
Mohanke said there is no numerical evidence that Fort Dodge has a problem with overpopulation of deer.
“We have never been able to verify how many deer there are,” They said.
The deer hunting measure must once again be approved by the city council.
The hunt must then be approved by the Iowa Natural Resources Commission, a panel that gives DNR guidance on external affairs. Then DNR and police department will make all the rules for hunting.
Once all this is done, the first deer hunt in the city will begin on September 16, 2023 and end on January 7, 2024.