City Council Approves Urban Deer Hunt


Henry Mildenstein

A deer feeds in Hickory Hill park, where a large portion of Iowa City’s deer population resides.

Despite initial hesitation from the Iowa City City Council, one year of professional sharpshooting followed by urban bow hunts during the next four winters was passed by the City Council. While the initial deer management plan included just one year of professional sharpshooting, the Natural Resource Commission (NRC) rejected the proposal, saying that it needed to include bow hunting as part of the deer management plan. 

Iowa City has a history of using professional sharpshooters to maintain a lower population of deer in the city. Derek Frank, a sergeant at the Iowa City Police Department, says that the sharpshooting will be mostly unnoticeable to the people living in Iowa City.

“The sharpshooters are professionals; they go out and scout the areas that are going to be most effective, then they determine the safest and best locations to do it. They don’t necessarily just go into people’s yard,” Frank said.

Although the sharpshooting is nothing new to Iowa City, Jim Throgmorton, the current mayor of Iowa City thinks that the public’s concerns rest mostly with the introduction of the urban bow hunting for the next four winters.

One fear is that people have brought up is that the hunter might wound a deer and not be able to follow it, leaving a dead deer in the city”

— Jim Throgmorton

Another concern that he had was about the public safety.

“You know, if you miss the deer, where’s the arrow going to go? 25 years ago, when I was walking through a neighborhood knocking on doors, there was an arrow that flew by my head and almost hit me,” Throgmorton said.

Throgmorton, had some frustration with the interaction between the council and the NRC.

“The NRC understood that the locals seemed to be very strongly against authorizing [bow hunting] in our city. The commission was telling us we have to allow hunting. So we felt a little frustrated that they have the authority,” Throgmorton said.

In the end, Throgmorton believed the NRC was able to help City Council rework the plan for the better.

“We needed to get their approval for our deer management plan. I think the plan we came up with was better than the one that would have existed had we not engaged in conversations with them last July,” Throgmorton said.

Azzurra Sartini-Rideout ‘20, a leader of Greenpeace, which is a club dedicated to making the community more green, wishes that other options were considered beyond hunting, but understands why the decision was made.

“Deer overpopulation is a serious problem and needs to be addressed, but I myself would prefer if there was a way that we could do it without killing the animals, just because I am not a huge hunter,” Sartini-Rideout said.

Despite some opposition to the hunt, Sartini-Rideout’s main concern is that the deer don’t suffer.
“I oppose hunting that is done so people can boast about it  and post pictures and that kind of stuff. As long as they are doing it for the right reason, and the animals aren’t suffering, that’s completely different in my book,” Sartini-Rideout said.