SUNFISH LAKE DEER HUNTING
The City has recently received inquiries about our annual sanctioned bow hunting designed to cull the deer herd in Sunfish Lake. The DNR has previously indicated that SFL has too many deer to be safely supported in the 1.7 square mile area that makes up our city. Thus, concern for the well-being of the deer dictates that the herd must be culled. Without such action some deer will die due to starvation. The City forbids feeding the deer since that practice serves to increase the deer population to an unhealthy number. Once the deer herd is reduced to a sustainable level; thereafter the objective of the annual hunt is to maintain the herd at a sustainable level.
It has been reported that 90% of the Iowa deer herd has been determined to have COVID-19 and additionally the news media has issued warnings about the substantial increase in automobile-deer collisions, which, on occasion, lead to human fatality. Both are reasons to maintain a sustainable deer herd population.
It is understandable that some residents are deer lovers and prefer no hunting be allowed. However, since the deer have no other natural predators in our small city as they would if they were in a more rural setting, it is necessary to cull the herd. This is not a “hobby” as some have put it, for the Metro Bow Hunters Resource Base hunters; rather, it is a public service beneficial to the City and the deer herd.
I quote Sgt. Matt Muellner’s response to a resident’s complaint in order to assist in understanding this issue:
“The Sunfish Lake City Council approves the Deer Management Plan. The management plan has been in place for 12 years and was established to help keep the city's deer herd at a healthy manageable level. Over these years the management plan has succeeded in this and is now in more of a maintenance mode. Hunters now remove only the huntable surplus. The goal is not to remove all the deer only to ensure the herds health and reduce car/deer crashes, reduce chronic wasting disease, and starving deer just to mention a few. We are currently in the middle of a three-year contract. I am the coordinator of the hunt and the liaison between the city and the hunter at MBRB (Metro Bow hunters Resource Base). The MBRB members follow a strict set of rules and I stress and hold them accountable to tighter restrictions than the organization. Every attempt is made to ensure a clean harvest is made.
During the first weekend of the hunt we (MBRB hunters) did not shoot at any deer so I am not sure what may have happened to the deer that was found deceased on one of your neighbor's property. There are a few SFL residents that partake in the "Resident Hunt" that have the ability to hunt on dates other than MBRB. Even then, these residents are required to report to me any shots or harvests that take place and I did not hear from them. Residents are held to the same standards as MBRB members. This is the first I have heard about the deer from last year with the arrow sticking out of its leg. Last year there was a large buck that had likely been hit by a car and had one of its back legs badly broken and deformed. I saw the deer several times and even had a video of it sent to me. None of the MBRB hunters from last year shot that deer. I know for certain that people hunt illegally in SFL every year, but I have not been able to catch anyone in the act. Every year MBRB hunters find evidence of illegal hunting such as tree stands, bait piles, and trails cameras. There have been 2 deer shot with rifles by poachers and left dead within the last couple years. This is obviously a huge concern.”