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UPDATE: DNR officers can’t say cause of death for deer in Iowa City park

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UPDATE: An officer for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources in Johnson County says the department was unable to determine cause of death for two deer found in a city park.

Conservation Officer Erika Billerbeck says the two deer carcasses found at Terry Trueblood Recreation Area in early December were too decomposed to analyze.

As reported last week, members of a wildlife group in Iowa City believed the deer may have been killed and left there by White Buffalo, a company the city has contracted for it's deer management project.

IOWA CITY, Iowa (KWWL) - A wildlife group which opposes deer culling in Iowa City, to manage population, pleaded with city council members at this week's meeting.

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 were told that the death was instant and that they'd be able to retrieve the bodies," Laurie Crawford with Iowa City Deer Friends said.

Iowa City Police say that while Terry Trueblood was one of the city parks closed in December for culling, no sharpshooting ever occurred.

"Although White Buffalo (the company Iowa City contracted for sharpshooting) did bait at Terry Trueblood, given the lack of deer activity, they deactivated the site," Capt. Bill Campbell said, head of field operations for Iowa City Police.

Campbell says ICPD officers responded to Terry Trueblood when members of Deer Friends found the carcasses but then turned them over to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to determine cause of death.

KWWL is working to contact DNR conservation officers in Iowa City and will update this story when more information is available.

"We can't imagine a scenario other than that these were deer killed by White Buffalo," Crawford said.

The city is planning a second deer culling for February which Captain Campbell says will not feature some locations from December, like Terry Trueblood Rec. Area.

Crawford would like the city to collect information on White Buffalo's sharpshooters for the next round.

"To make sure they don't have any convictions, especially ones involving firearms. And to make sure they've been proficiency tested," Crawford said.

Captain Campbell says the city has never collected this information in 20 years of working with White Buffalo. The company's website also outlines it's multi-stage training process.

Iowa City added four seasons of bow hunting at the request of the Iowa DNR's Natural Resources Commission last fall. The city's deer management project is trying to cut the deer population in Iowa City from around 70 per square mile to 25 per square mile.

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Travis Breese

Reporter, Iowa City

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