Letter to the editor: Deer population out of control

To the editor,

I am writing because there is and continues to be a very serious problem in the state of Iowa with the out of control deer population. The number of deer in this state is causing a record number of car-deer related accidents, and most every farmer in southeast Iowa will tell you their crops are damaged by as much as 5% from deer eating and mashing down their fields. This is costing farmers millions of dollars in revenue. They are causing record numbers of auto collisions also, and now Jefferson County Iowa has the distinction of being the #1 deer-vehicle related accident county in the whole state! If you think the problem hasn’t affected you because you have not hit one-think again. All you need to do is look at your auto insurance rates. The coverage that goes to repair your vehicle, the other than collision coverage has been going up steadily over the past 20 years. The other than collision coverage on your auto insurance has risen anywhere from 200% to 400% in the last 10 years depending on which insurance company you have. Other than collision rates have now, in most cases overtaken the cost of collision as the most expensive part of automobile insurance. Drivers are driving safer-but we simply can’t avoid these deer darting out in front of moving vehicles. Even during the day they are hard to see in the ditches. And rest assured-every insurance company doing business in the state of Iowa is feeling the same adverse affects. So why do we have 500,000 deer roaming around the state damaging crops, causing property damage to vehicles and causing fatalities from these animals. The answer is simple. The DNR! The Department of Natural Resources in the state of Iowa are the beneficiaries of the deer population. They “try” and control the numbers by issuing deer hunting tags to hunters, as this is one of their major sources of income. The DNR receives little funding from the state- only around 1% of the general taxes goes to the DNR, so the DNR has to scramble for other avenues of income and one of the most lucrative is to keep the deer population high so they can issue deer tags for hunting. Yes kill a deer without a tag, and it’s a major fine payable to the DNR, but hit it with your car and guess who owns the deer-and the cost! It is a well-known fact that people travel from all over the country to try and hunt for a “record” buck in Iowa. Southeast Iowa is a major haven for deer, and the landscape in the southeast quarter of the state descends from mostly open farmland to a lot of tree covered areas. Jefferson, Van Buren, Henry, Lee, Louisa & Des Moines counties are prime deer population centers because of the coverage with trees and forests. The deer population has risen from approximately 15,000 in the whole state around 1960 to over 470,000 by the last best guesstimates from the DNR. There is absolutely no need for these number of deer. There is just NO reason whatsoever that we need 1/2 million deer in this state, and we need to start putting pressure on the DNR and tell our state representatives that the numbers are out of control and the tens of millions of dollars they are causing each year is simply unacceptable. You can call the Iowa DNR direct at 515-725-8200, but they directed me to a DNR wildlife staff member Chris Ensminger at 515-725-8499. Please call and voice your concern. Until there is pressure to decrease this deer population they will continue to multiply virtually unchecked as deer have no natural predators to keep the numbers down. Unless we take action, we will continue to experience these horribly expensive auto crashes, lower crop yields and much higher than normal auto premiums. Make a phone call and tell the DNR we do not need 500,000 deer in the state of Iowa.

David Pacha