Rock Island hunters say deer hunt is “too limited”

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Nearly 100 hunters packed the Rock Island City Council Chambers Tuesday night, saying they would like the chance to bow hunt within city limits.  Many, though, left the meeting skeptical of the City's new deer management program.

"I think it's too limited to have a very big impact," said hunter Brian Casey.

This December, only a small number of people will actually have the opportunity to hunt in Rock Island. The Police Department will issue permits for up to four private property locations, and lottery will determine who can hunt at just four deer stands on Rock Island golf courses.

"From what I understand, there's only eight hunters allowed at a time [on park property] for the season. That doesn't really make a big impact on the herd, which I thought was the entire purpose. So, we'll wait and see what happens," said hunter Chris Carton.

Officials have said there could be nearly 800 deer living in Rock Island, which is why the City Council gave preliminary approval Monday to a hunt. Some residents, though, said the program will need more hunters to truly thin that herd.

"I think they could triple it, and then run a trial period with those numbers and see what happens," said Carton.

Rock Island Parks and Recreation Director William Nelson stressed that a December hunt would only be a trial and that another deer count would likely be done in the future.

"There's always a possibility of revising the plan," said Nelson. "This will be a very short season. So, essentially, it is a trial program, just to see what we can do and whether or not we're going to be able to make a difference."

Hunters also responded to residents' worries about safety at Tuesday's meeting, explaining that bow hunting requires short-range shots. Both Casey and Carton said they have no concerns about the program's safety.

"Probably the biggest safety concern would be falling out of one of the stands," said Casey.

On Monday, November 18, the City Council is expected to finalize Rock Island's deer hunting ordinance. Those interested in applying for a hunting permit or allowing hunting on their property should contact the Parks and Recreation Department.

Applications are due November 25.