A city is getting closer to a plan to control the deer population. Rock Island has been talking about it for a couple of years now, and city leaders are looking to handle the high numbers by allowing an urban deer hunt.
Staff and city officials say it's the most efficient option, as opposed to paying police or a contractor to be a sharpshooter. A recent look at the population shows there are close to 800 deer roaming Rock Island. The high number is posing safety issues on the roads and nuisances to properties.
The plan discussed at Monday night's council work session is a two year trial program, strictly bow hunting and only on approved sites where the landowner gives the okay. Only hunters who get a permit and pass a skill test will be allowed to participate. Another requirement will likely be to harvest at least two non-antlered deer prior to harvesting a buck.
The sites have to be at least three contiguous acres and be located at least 100 yards from a school, park, or church. The ordinance would also limit the number of privately owned sites, as well as golf courses and cemetery areas that could be included. There are several landowners that have requested to take part already. Council members may be compromising on that though, as some want to start off small.
"I'm thinking six sites, half a dozen sites. The cemeteries I think are fantastic. If there's 12 acres I don't mind," said Alderman Dave Conroy, 2nd ward.
"A trial run for the short season is simply that. You find out how it's going to work in an area like Rock island that's so confined. That's our biggest issue," said Mayor Dennis Pauley.
Some of the stipulations still need to be worked out, but the council wants to get the short season going this December, so they have to move quickly to get an ordinance in place. There is a special meeting Thursday at 5:15pm for an initial vote to allow staff to start drafting a plan.
Rock Island used other communities as examples in coming up with a plan. Davenport, Bettendorf and LeClaire all have urban deer hunting programs.