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IA: Illegal hunting an issue

Urbandale deer hunt begins Saturday; poaching has been an issue

September 11, 2009

Hunters have killed a recorded 336 deer since 1998, helping to curb a growing population.

Poaching is the one concern some Urbandale residents have voiced about the city's annual urban deer hunt, which begins Saturday, officials have said.

"It's taking deer illegally," said Assistant City Manager Su Zaanna K. Prophet of poaching. In Urbandale, it's against the law to hunt out of season. Also, a permit for the urban bow hunt is required by law, Prophet said.

Last year, Urbandale police arrested Scott A. Lamar, 45, of Urbandale Nov. 8 for allegedly hunting without a permit in the 9800 block of Hickory Drive. Police confiscated a bow and arrow as well as a couple of handguns. Lamar was cited by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources for hunting out of season.

Urbandale police officer Jeff Casey, who will run the bow-hunting program this year, has said that poaching has been an issue in the past, with officers receiving calls from residents about gun shots, or finding headless deer carcasses.

Intended to help curb the over-population of deer within in the city, hunters have killed 336 deer since the program began in 1998. The Polk County Deer Task Force estimates that without any attempt to control the deer population, the number of deer would double every three to four years. The target the task force is aiming for is 30 deer per square mile.

Aerial surveys are conducted every year at the conclusion of the hunting season to assess the deer population. In 2009, the task force estimated there was an average of 46 deer per square mile in Urbandale, a drop from the estimated 48 deer per square mile in 2008.

Urbandale City Council member Tom Gayman, who describes himself as an avid hunter, said last week there was little opposition from residents toward permanently allowing bow hunting in Urbandale.

Poaching is the biggest concern residents have brought to Gayman. He said he believes that concern may be due to the large bucks he has spotted in Urbandale recently. Other hunters have noticed the deer, as well, Gayman said.

"I've seen guys with scopes checking out those big bucks," Gayman said. "I've heard other hunters commenting about large-size bucks."

This year the bow hunting program will be managed by the Urbandale Police Department, rather than the city's Parks and Recreation Department, a move that Gayman believes will make it easier for police to help track down and eliminate poaching.

Prophet said the city had heard from residents who were concerned about deer hunting taking place within the city limits, most of the resident concerns were over the issue of safety.

"It's just like mosquito spraying," Prophet said. "Every year when it comes up we hear from some residents."

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