The state Natural Resources Commission and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources last week approved proposed rules for the 2008-09 deer hunting season. The proposed rules would make several changes to improve the deer depredation or deer-herd control program, which helps farmers reduce deer damage to crops and forage.
Iowa DNR officials acknowledge that there are several legislative changes to deer hunting regulations being discussed in this year's Legislature that may need to be incorporated into this new proposal before its approval in June.
The Iowa Farm Bureau supports pending legislation that would provide one additional free antlerless-only depredation tag for landowners in the program; allow farmers to use depredation tags in any season; allow farmers to qualify for the depredation program without building a fence; require the DNR to make educational tools about the depredation program more readily available to the public; and require the department to conduct outreach programs to explain the depredation program and develop a master hunter program.
License transfer rules proposed
Earlier this year, the DNR held an intensive, week-long session, designed to improve the current depredation program. At least one of the proposed changes in the hunting rules stem from suggestions made at that meeting.
Under the DNR-proposed rules, a farmer who enters into a depredation agreement would be issued a set of authorization numbers that can be used by a resident hunter who has permission to hunt. The authorization number can be used to purchase a license in any season. This authorization number can also be transferred to another resident hunter with permission from the landowner. The landowner or an eligible family member may also obtain one depredation license for each season.
A person who harvests a deer with an out-of-season shooting permit can also use the deer harvest reporting system and not be subject to different disposal or reporting requirements than a typical hunter. This removes a requirement to coordinate with conservation officers. However, antlers must be turned over to a conservation officer.
Public hearings to be held April 29
Outside of the depredation program, the proposed hunting rules would make it illegal for a person to allow another person to use or possess their license or transportation tag, and would move the closing date for the muzzleloading season ahead three days.
In addition, the new rules would require a hunter using a ground blind for hunting deer during the regular gun deer seasons to exhibit a solid blaze orange marking visible in all directions with a minimum height of 12 inches and a minimum width of 12 inches.
DNR will accept comments on the 2008-2009 deer hunting rules through April 29. To make a comment go to www.iowadnr.gov or write to Wildlife Bureau Chief, Department of Natural Resources, Wallace State Office Building, Des Moines, IA 50319-0034. Comments can also be faxed to 515-281-6794 or given orally at 515-281-5034.
Also, there will be public hearings held at 18 locations via the Iowa Communications Network on April 29. Comments may be presented either orally or in writing at the hearing. Interested persons should contact the DNR at 515-281-5918 for a list of hearing locations or go to the DNR Web site at www.iowadnr.gov.