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hunting population surveys

Iowa's Population Trends

Trends in Iowa Wildlife Populations and Harvest (Logbook) is compiled annually by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Bureau. Publication for the preceding calendar year usually occurs in September

The information includes: 
White-tailed Deer, Wild Turkeys, Furbearers, Waterfowl, Upland Wildlife, Peregrine Falcon, Osprey, Sandhill Crane, Bald Eagle, River Otter, Bobcat, Mountain Lion, Black Bear, Gray Wolf, Trumpeter Swan, Greater Prairie Chicken, Bowhunter Observation Survey and the Ruffed Grouse Survey

Inquires and requests for bound copies should be addressed to:
Iowa Department of Natural Resources
Boone Wildlife Research Station
1436 255th Street, Boone, IA 50036
or contact (515) 432-2823

Bowhunter Observation Survey

The Bowhunter Observation Survey is an annual survey conducted by the Iowa DNR to obtain information on deer, turkeys, and selected furbearers. This survey was initiated in 2004 and was designed jointly by the Iowa DNR and William R. Clark, Professor at Iowa State University. For each bowhunting trip, survey participants are asked to record the date, the county hunted, the number of hours hunted, and the number of animals observed while bowhunting.

Hunters are asked to record observations of the following species: White-tailed Deer, Raccoon, Wild Turkey, Opossum, Striped Skunk, Bobcat, Coyote, Badget, Red Fox, House cat,  Gray Fox and River otter.

The primary objectives for this survey are to:

  • determine the value of bowhunter observation data as a supplement to other deer data collected by the DNR; and
  • develop a long-term database of selected furbearer data for monitoring and evaluating population trends.

Bowhunters are a logical choice for observational-type surveys because the methods used while bowhunting deer are also ideal for viewing most wildlife species in their natural environment. Bowhunters spend a considerable amount of time pursuing deer from a bowstand or ground blind, and while doing so they typically wear camouflage and take steps to control or mask human scent.
Sample survey form for this survey

List of frequently asked questions regarding this survey

Spring Spotlight Survey

The Spring Spotlight Survey is an annual survey conducted by the Iowa DNR to monitor the population trends of deer, raccoon, and other select furbearers. Between mid-March and mid-April, DNR staff drive two rural routes across each county at night and document the number of individuals of each species and their locations observed by spotlight. This survey was initiated in 1978 along select forested habitats to monitor raccoon and deer populations and redesigned in 2006 to allow for statewide coverage of other habitats and species.

The primary objectives for this survey are to:

  • develop a long-term database for monitoring the population trends of deer, raccoon, and other select furbearer species; and
  • develop estimates of deer density across the state.

Spotlight surveys have been used by biologists nationwide since the mid-1900s and are effective for monitoring population trends, determining the distribution of species, identifying habitat use, and predicting disease outbreaks.

Spring Spotlight Survey Results, 2023