Iowa Deer Population:  An estimated 445,000 deer in 2020, 460,000 in 2019, and 475,000 deer in 2018.  A downward deer population trend from 2006, but about stable in 2015 after a mild winter and early spring, and into 2017.  Starting in 2014, a reduced number of antlerless licenses were issued to help stabilize the herd. The  population peaked at about 650,000 in 2006.  Herd analysis at right.  Historic Iowa deer hunting data and news archive.
Iowa Deer News

... House File 2455 that requires hunters and dogs to be trained prior to tracking wounded deer.  In order to satisfy this requirement, the DNR proposes to provide a form to document the hunter and the dog’s blood tracking training and experience... Comment by December 14, 2020

... The driver was charged with careless driving, driving on the wrong side of the road, prohibited destructive acts, hunting on a game refuge, illegal taking of deer, and no deer license or tag. The fines totaled more $900 ...

... The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has a goal each year of collecting more than 4,600 deer tissue samples statewide to test for chronic wasting disease and the majority of those samples come from the two shotgun deer seasons.  The disease surveillance effort includes colleting a minimum of 15 samples from each county ...

Iowa Legalizes Use of Dogs For Deer Recovery October 14, 2020 North American Whitetail Magazine
... Following the lead of 38 other states, Iowa now will allow the use of dogs in recovering deer...

Iowa Deer Seasons Have Begun October 8, 2020 Iowa, KIWARadio.com
... The results of Iowa’s annual spring spotlight survey indicate the population is 3 percent lower than last year. Part of the decline could be related to last year’s outbreak of epizootic hemorrhagic disease in certain locations.   “While we were in a pretty significant drought this year, we haven’t received any reports of the disease. That may change as the crops come out, but so far, so good.” ..,

Iowa’s archery deer hunting season begins Oct. 1 September 29, 2020 Iowa DNR News
... The results of Iowa’s annual spring spotlight survey indicate the population is 3 percent lower than last year, said Harms, who coordinates the project. Part of the decline could be related to last year’s outbreak of epizootic hemorrhagic disease in certain locations..,

... The statement in the petition saying the city has acknowledged deer population as being under target numbers references a letter sent by Iowa City City Manager Geoff Fruin to the Iowa Natural Resource Commission in May after last year’s winter sharpshoot conducted by wildlife management organization White Buffalo...

...They claim The City has already achieved the reported goal of deer density numbers as a result of last winter’s sharpshooting activities and say the extremely lax regulations and licensing requirements pose a public safety risk to the citizens of Iowa City...

Iowa City Council agrees to rules for winter deer bow hunt September 2, 2020 Iowa, Iowa City Press
... For two decades, Iowa City has managed its urban deer population using a sharpshoot. The sharpshoot that culled over 500 deer this spring might be last. To manage deer in the future, the governor-appointed Natural Resource Commission required the city to use a system of 100-day bow hunts...

Iowa City to hold first of four annual bow hunts to manage deer August 31, 2020 Iowa, UI The Daily Iowan
... Crawford said an annual bow hunt is unnecessary because deer eventually regulate their numbers themselves, based on the availability of food. She anticipates a natural decline in the local deer population following the effects of the recent derecho that swept through Iowa, ... “When there isn’t sufficient food, the does will absorb their fetuses and they don’t have litters,” ...

Sioux City City Council discusses deer management zone August 24, 2020 Iowa, Siouxland News
... The state of Iowa is establishing a deer management zone in Woodbury County after a deer with Chronic Wasting Disease was discovered in Sioux City last year... Councilmembers expressed concern about any increased liability for the city ...

Iowa City prepares for inaugural bow hunt this fall August 4, 2020 Iowa, Iowa City Press Citizen
... in order to get a sharpshoot permit from the Iowa governor-appointed Natural Resource Commission, Iowa City Council had to agree to four years of 30-day bow hunt seasons. Tuesday night, the council will have the first of three considerations on an ordinance amending city code to allow a person to discharge an arrow ...

Continue to be on the lookout in case deer have EHD June 26, 2020 Iowa, Des Moines Register
... there was some suspicion of a couple epizootic hemorrhagic disease cases in Warren County and on the border of Clarke and Decatur counties two weeks ago... deer that are acting strangely or are deceased near water sources ...

  Albino or piebald? White deer spotted in Jasper County May 26, 2020 Iowa, Des Moines Register
... The doe is well-known to locals ... All-white deer rarely reach adulthood in rural areas, since they're more visible to predators ... In Iowa, it’s illegal to hunt deer that are more than 50 percent white...

DNR proposes changes to balance deer herd March 23, 2020 Iowa, Iowa Farm Bureau
... would reestablish general deer licenses in seven counties and rescinds the January antlerless-deer-only season for all 99 counties... Due to a widespread outbreak of Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) last summer in some 60 counties, particularly in central, south central, southeast and east central Iowa, deer numbers and the harvest were down in the state. The state’s total deer harvest last season was 93,964, a decrease of more than 12% compared with 107,857 the previous season..,

Survival of white-tailed deer fawns in central Iowa PG McGovern, SJ Dinsmore, JA Blanchong - PloS one, 2020
... We radio-collared 48 fawns in central Iowa from 2015–2017 to estimate survival, home range size, and habitat composition and identity causes of mortality. Estimated fawn survival (± SE) was similar to other Midwest studies at 30 (0.78 ± 0.07)) and 60 days (0.69 ± 0.08) ... We recorded 21 mortalities, the leading cause of which was disease (n = 9; 56% epizootic hemorrhagic disease [EHD]) followed by suspected predation (4) and harvest (3)...

... Undercover agents went on a hunt with Volkmar in 2013 and say he violated Iowa law by illegally tagging a deer and assisted in transporting it across state lines...

... State biologists are considering increasing the number of antlerless deer that hunters can harvest in 11 counties next hunting season, while at the same time, decreasing the harvest quota in as many others... 

Five Iowa City parks will close early as sharpshooters start next phase of deer cull February 17, 2020 Iowa, Little Village
... sharpshooters will kill deer in the designated area, as part of the deer management program unanimously approved by the Iowa City Council ... A study by White Buffalo estimated the density of Iowa City’s deer population at 57.5 deer per mile. The goal for the management program is to reduce that to 25 deer per mile...

... “We had a significant outbreak of epizootic hemorrhagic disease across the state. And that could’ve resulted in lower numbers of deer out on the landscape — and ultimately resulting in lower harvest,” Harms says. “We do know after an outbreak that we had in 2012 and 2013 we had similar trends ..,

Deer wasting disease found in 2 NE Iowa counties February 11, 2020 Iowa, The Courier
... Chronic wasting disease has been confirmed in wild deer from Woodbury, Winneshiek, Fayette and Decatur counties ...  nearly 7,000 deer tissue samples for testing ... in the 2019-2020 season that resulted in 43 positive wild deer..,

     Hunters reported harvesting nearly 94,000 deer during Iowa’s 2019-2020 hunting seasons, which is a decline from 2018-19, when hunters reported nearly 108,000 deer.  Wildlife experts say while there are a number of factors that likely contributed to the decline, the most prominent is the outbreak of hemorrhagic disease that killed thousands of deer across the state...

Iowa City deer management continues to draw controversy among residents January 21, 2020 Iowa, Univeristy of Iowa Daily Iowan
... Iowa City will be managing the deer population through 2025 — first through sharpshooting, and later through a bow hunt... Iowa City managed deer through sharpshooting from 2000 to 2010 ... One group upset by the City Council’s decision to sharpshoot and bow hunt deer is the Iowa City Deer Friends...

Wildlife group questioning city's deer management plan January 8, 2020 Iowa, kwwl.com
... Iowa City Deer Friends showed counselors pictures Tuesday of deer carcasses found at Terry Trueblood Recreation Area in early December, claiming they had been shot during the city program and left to rot... "We can't imagine a scenario other than that these were deer killed by White Buffalo," ...

Overall Deer Numbers Are Stable in Iowa January 7, 2020 Iowa, raccoonvalleyradio.com
... the harvest numbers have been averaging 100,000 deer...   “So that tells you that the deer herd is staying really stable, it’s right where the DNR (Department of Natural Resources) wants it. Compared to 2005 when we had our peak deer harvest of over 200,000 deer. We’re harvesting just half the number of deer we did 15 years ago, so it’s probably safe to assume the deer herd itself is half the size that it was 15 years ago.” [Iowa increase hunting pressure around 2005 to reduce the deer herd] ..,

The First Shotgun Deer Season Begins Dec. 7 December 7, 2019 Iowa, KIOW
... “Our deer herd is trending slightly higher statewide but remains well within our population goals and based on our survey data ... More than 110,000 blaze orange clad hunters and landowners will be pushing and posting the timber in pursuit of Iowa’s legendary whitetails..,

Deer hunters preparing for shotgun opener December 4, 2019 Iowa, Radio Iowa
... we’re seeing a slight increasing trend in our deer population statewide, but we’re still well within our population goal,” Harms says. “I would anticipate a very similar to slightly higher harvest.” ..,

... A tissue sample from a road killed deer collected on the south side of Sioux City is undergoing a follow up test for chronic wasting disease after its initial results showed a high likelihood that the disease was present. If confirmed, Woodbury County would become the fifth Iowa county where a wild deer has tested positive for the always fatal disease...

... should expect to see about the same number of deer as last year, with one exception. Hunters in south central Iowa, where deer populations were impacted by an outbreak of hemorrhagic disease, will see a decline..,

... there are around 25 deer involved. “Right now we have two herds that are positive... “They’re farm-raised deer ... used for hunting and federal officials will determine if they destroy the entire herd...
     Iowa officials confirm 2 cases of chronic wasting disease November 23, 2019 Miami Herald
... chronic wasting disease has been found in captive whitetail deer on two separate farms in Van Buren County in southeastern Iowa..,
     Chronic wasting disease confirmed in two captive white-tail deer farms in southeast Iowa November 22, 2019 Iowa, Des Moines Register on MSN.com
... Officials will destroy the captive white-tail deer herds on two separate southeast Iowa farms where chronic wasting disease has been confirmed ... The last confirmed case in Iowa was in Buchanan County in 2016..,

THE CITY OF IOWA CITY IS CLOSING PARKS AND ASKING DRIVERS TO BE EXTRA VIGILANT THIS WINTER AS IT CULLS WILD DEER. A THIRD-PARTY CONTRACTOR WILL BEGIN SHARPSHOOTING DEER NEXT MONTH. THE CITY IS ALSO PUTTING UP NEW DEER CROSSING SIGNS, AS THE ANIMALS MOVE TOWARDS BAITED TRAPS. - November 22, 2019 Iowa


Disease dwindles deer numbers in central Iowa November 20, 2019 Iowa, KCCI Des Moines
... Epizootic hemorrhagic disease, or EHD, is the likely cause of 1,800 deer deaths in Iowa this fall... Warren County appears to be ground zero, with nearly 800 deer deaths in the county..,

   Heading into Iowa’s busiest outdoor ‘opening day,’ shotgun deer season hunters should expect to see about the same number of deer in the timber as last year – with the possible exception for hunters in southcentral Iowa, where local deer populations were impacted by an outbreak of hemorrhagic disease..,

Prime time arrives for Iowa deer hunters October 31, 2019 Nevada, Clarinda Herald-Journal
... Iowa’s deer population is stable to slightly increasing over much of the state.  ... Iowa DNR has received reports of nearly 1,800 suspected deer mortalities due to hemorrhagic disease in 2019... Iowa has been testing deer for chronic wasting disease since 2002. To date, more than 70,000 wild deer have been tested with 46 coming back as positive..,

North Iowa parks turn to specialized hunting for deer management October 10, 2019 Globe Gazette
... Mason City's operates under deer management zone guidelines from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. According to the Iowa DNR's website, 18 communities and 25 state and county parks are currently conducting controlled hunts across the state...
... Iowa is experiencing an outbreak of epizootic hemorrhagic disease or EHD.  As of late August, more than 400 deer have been found dead ...

Petition: Please Help Save the Wildwood Deer September 25, 2019 Iowa, Change.org
... The City of Charles City has decided to take the unusual move of wanting an entire herd of deer to be killed, possibly as large as 150 deer at Wildwood Golf course in Northeast Iowa... We have reached out to other golf courses in Iowa, as well as in the immediate area and they have successfully used other methods to deter deer ...
... With 46 CWD positive deer in the State of Iowa since 2013, five have been confirmed in Wayne County within the Corydon Deer Management Zone. One testing positive southwest of Seymour and the other four on the southern outskirts of Corydon..,

...  almost 900 deer have died due to EHD and that there could be even more dead deer hidden among farmers' crops...

Number of deer and Iowa counties hit by EHD has increased August 30, 2019 Radio Iowa
... Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease or EHD ...“Total statewide number of reported deer is 583. And we are seeing a bit of an expansion in terms of space and scope. So we are see it reported in some additional counties in southern Iowa — and also some counties in eastern Iowa as well,”  ...

Virus claiming deer in Iowa August 27, 2019 DNR News
... An outbreak of Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) is impacting deer primarily in south central Iowa with the largest concentration of infected animals being reported in Warren County... Current loss estimate is more than 400...

... During the first year, there will be a winter sharpshoot. For each of the four years following, there will be a 30-day bow hunt... While DNR staff said deer density needs to be close to 10 deer-pe-square mile if they want to protect vegetation, the city's plan is for 25...
     Iowa City Council to vote on plan for four bow hunts in four years August 5, 2019 Iowa, Iowa City Press Citizen
... On three separate occasions, the Iowa National Resource Commission, a governor-appointed board that manages the state's deer herd, shot down the city's plans, primarily because of its reluctance for a public hunt... NRC indicated that it would approve a plan including a sharpshooting element only if it was followed by four years of "meaningful" bow hunts ...

deer  2019, Iowa.  DJ Kaminski, TM Harms, JM Coffey - The Journal of Wildlife Management.
... From 2012 to 2017, we conducted spring spotlight surveys in each of 99 counties in Iowa ... Population estimates for 2012 were variable, indicating that atypical weather conditions may affect spotlight counts and population estimates in some years. For 2013–2017, we predicted a mean population of 439,129 (95% CI ∼ ± 55,926), 440,360 (∼ ± 43,676), and 465,959 (∼ ± 51,242) deer across years for extrapolation, ZIP, and ZINB models, respectively...

deer  2019, Iowa.  DJ Kaminski, TM Harms, JM Coffey - The Journal of Wildlife Management.
... From 2012 to 2017, we conducted spring spotlight surveys in each of 99 counties in Iowa ... Population estimates for 2012 were variable, indicating that atypical weather conditions may affect spotlight counts and population estimates in some years. For 2013–2017, we predicted a mean population of 439,129 (95% CI ∼ ± 55,926), 440,360 (∼ ± 43,676), and 465,959 (∼ ± 51,242) deer across years for extrapolation, ZIP, and ZINB models, respectively...

Ames, Urban deer hunting returns this fall July 24, 2019 Iowa, Ames Tribune
... For the 13th consecutive year, the Ames’ City Council has approved an urban deer management program that allows licensed residents to bow hunt in approved areas ... the city and the DNR added an incentive that anyone who harvests five doe are eligible to hunt buck the following season...

Iowa City's deer hunt plan would "pit neighbor against neighbor" June 25, 2019 Iowa, Iowa City Press Citizen-18 hours ago
... The amended deer management proposal bows to the NRC's demand for less than 10 deer per square mile. Des Moines is allowed 30 deer per square mile... officers will be tasked with tracking and removing bloody arrow-shot deer from lawns of unsuspecting residents who oppose urban hunts...

Iowa City Council agrees to deer bow hunt June 19, 2019 Iowa City Press-Citizen
...  Iowa City's request for permission for a new hunt by sharpshooters has twice been rejected by the commission. The concern from the NRC is that the plan relies too much on sharpshooting for long-term management and that allowing bow hunting by area hunters would be more effective...

... Callers report finding an “abandoned” fawn in an unusual place, like a flowerbed or small patch of cover. Rest assured this is normal deer behavior.  “The doe searches out an isolated location where she feels safe and on occasion those places are not what we may think of as ideal..,

The state of wildlife April 24, 2019 Iowa, Pilot Tribune
... “In Buena Vista County, the whole northwest part of the state really, we have been somewhat concerned. The deer population has been trending below the population we would like to see. We have not allowed antlerless harvest for a few years to try to get the numbers back up, and it looks like they are just starting to recover,” ..,

Iowa City, Support non-lethal control of local deer April 22, 2019 Iowa, The Gazette
... Neighboring Coralville has been conducting amateur bow hunts since 1999, with underwhelming results. Deer-vehicle incidents actually increased from 2015 to 2017. After several years of bow hunting in nearby Muscatine, the herd grew by a third. Clearly, this is not the way to control a local herd...

Annual Spring Wildlife Survey Underway April 13, 2019 Iowa, KIOW
... The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) annual spring spotlight survey is underway with Wildlife and Law Enforcement staff conducting nighttime counts of all furbearing animals, and white-tailed deer... will follow the route driving below 20 miles per hour, shining spotlights from both sides of the vehicle...
... “It is our understanding that the [commission] will approve professionally contracted sharpshooting for one year to decrease the number to the commission-approved density level, but then some form of public hunt must be utilized to maintain the numbers for the remainder of the five-year plan,” ...

...  one case of chronic wasting disease in January ... the DNR will also work with the city of Dubuque... "we'll work with them as far trying to get more samples from those hunters that hunt within the city limits so we can monitor and find out if the disease is actually in the city." ...

... The sharp shooting would potentially be approved [byDNR]  if the city agreed to an urban hunt, likely a bow hunt ... Council members like Susan Mims said the majority of people she has spoken with do not want a bow hunt in the city...

... Most of the timber stand improvement is achieved by identifying mast producing trees, like oaks and walnuts, or other target trees and getting rid of the trees around it that are competing for sunlight...  forest with a healthy mast production will benefit acorn eaters, like deer ...

...He and his wife wrote a letter to the city council expressing their concerns after deer starting eating the trees and bushes on their property ... We've tried iron fencing ... hasn't worked at all... from 1999 to 2010, the city hired a sharp shooter ...

Harsh winter hurting deer and wildlife population February 26, 2019 Iowa, ABC Kcrg 9
... seeing deer closer to neighborhoods isn't something to celebrate. It means they're having to work harder to find a meal.  "They're exposed more in the outside instead of in the brush where they can stay away and keep warm,"  ...

 Iowa Deer Analysis:  The state spotlight survey shows a 3 percent decline in the population in 2020.   A rough estimate from the state of 500,000 deer in 2018 with lower numbers in the northwest and higher numbers in the south and along the Mississippi river. More details.  The analysis explained below from various sources puts the deer population at about 475,000 for 2018, or in the range of around 500,000.
      A 2018 Iowa population report (p,4) summarizes:  "The data indicate that, statewide, the deer herd declined from 2006-2013, stabilized from 2013-2017, and is slightly increasing in 2018."   Research published in 2019 estimated these average deer populations for the state for 2013-2017 using three different models.  Averaging the three models for each year gives these estimates:  432,534 in 2012, 479,363 in 2013, 421,765 in 2014, 447,941 in 2015, 455,225 in 2016 and 440,356 in 2017.  Interpreting graphical information from the state's 2018 report indicates about an 8 percent increase in the pre-fawn deer population, for a 2018 population of about 475,000.
      Preliminary harvest data fell by more than 10 percent in 2019, but the spotlight survey for 2019 showed in increase of about 8 percent.  Comments from state agents indicate a stable to declining population in 2019 after an outbreak of EHD in central Iowa reduced the herd somewhat.  A 3 percent decline is used to reconcile this information for a rough estimate of 460,000 deer in 2019.  The state survey shows a 3 percent decline in 2020 for a population of about 445,000 deer.
    A downward trend into 2016 from 2006 when state lawmakers instructed the DNR to reduce the deer population.   About stable in 2015 after a mild winter and early spring.  In 2014, the state issued 10,000 fewer antlerless deer licenses in an effort to stabilize the population, no antlerless licenses in the northwest where deer populations have fallen dramatically.  DNR maintained reduced antlerless licenses numbers for 2015, 2016 and 2017 to stabilize the population.   The state issued a document around 2017 estimating the after hunt population at 400,000.
    A state estimate of 425,000 - 435,000 deer in 2013, the deer herd had been on a planned decline since 2002. The long winter of 2013-14 further reduced the herd into 2014. Drought and EHD accelerated the decline in 2012.   An estimate of 470,000 in 2010 and 13,000 in 1953
    Iowa’s deer population peaked at about 650,000 in 2006 (data are all before the hunt).  By 2014 the deer population had fallen back to levels of the 1990's.  The 2015 population was about 33 percent below the 2009 population.  The 2014 harvest was 39 percent below 2006 peak.
   Chronic Wasting Disease  A couple of cases in captive herds - one in Davis county in 2012.  Later, 284 of the 356 captive deer at the Davis County hunting operation tested positive. The first wild deer tested positive in 2013 in Allamakee County, followed by three in 2014, two in 2015, twelve in 2016, and eight in 2017.  In the 2018-19 hunting season, 14 cases.  A total of 46 by early fall 2019 with two captive deer farms testing positive in late 2019.  For the 2019-2020 hunting season 43 tested positive out of about 7,000 tested.
    History  White-tailed deer were reported to be abundant when European settlers arrived in Iowa in the early 1800's. Clearing and cultivating of land for agriculture

Population Estimates

Year     Winter         Maximum
          Population     Fall Pop.
1954    11,892          20,395
1955    10,684          18,323
1956    10,821          18,558
1957    10,294          17,654
1958    10,643          18,253
1959    11,726          20,110
1960    13,101          22,468
1961    14,155          24,276
1962    15,957          27,366
initially improved habitat, but over hunting for food and hides rapidly reduced deer numbers. By 1880 deer were rarely sighted and in 1898 the deer season was closed. Deer had been virtually eliminated from all parts of the state. The herd was rebuilt by trapping and relocating deer from other states, and by natural immigration.
  In 1936 there were only 500 to 700 deer in the state.  A 1947 survey put the number at 1650.  By 1950, about 10,000 deer.  When hunting resumed in 1953 there were around 12,000 to 15,000 deer.  
     In 1987 Iowa made it illegal to kill white deer.  In 1997 an estimated population of 300,000 after the 1996 harvest of over 100,000 deer. Hunting statistics.   Population estimates:  1940:  1,000.   1950:  4,500.    1960:  22,468.     1968:  38,000
     Elk were eliminated in Iowa by 1871 as a result of over hunting and habitat loss.  Iowa has no wild elk herds but elk are seen when they escape from private farms where they are considered "alternative livestock."  Elk sighted in 2016.
     Mountain Lion were eradicated from Iowa around 1900, one female returned and was shot in 2017, then another spotted on a trail camera.
 
Turn In Poachers (TIP):   (800) 532-2020
Other useful links:
Iowa Department of Natural Resources 

Iowa Whitetail Deer