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St. Louis County To Allow Controlled Deer Hunts In Parks

Photo by Diana Linsley, Webster-Kirkwood Times.

“Our goal is not to eliminate the deer population – just to control their numbers,” said Fitch. “The MDC has been having managed deer archery hunts in state parks within St. Louis County for many years. What we want to do in county parks is no different.”

By Don Corrigan (Webster-Kirkwood Times)

Powder Valley Nature Center in Kirkwood had a successful deer hunt this November to thin the population. St. Louis County officials have been consulting with the center for advice on addressing deer issues in county parks.

“Bad weather contributed to a poor hunt last year,” said Powder Valley’s Erin Shank, an urban wildlife expert with the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC). “This year the managed bow hunt was more successful.

“Four does, two button bucks and two antler bucks were taken,” said Shank. “The does are what you prefer to target, because they are the reproducers. The overpopulation of deer is a problem in many areas of St. Louis County.”

Shank said there are an increasing number of wildlife complaints from Kirkwood and Sunset Hills about the deer. She said they range from nuisance complaints about deer in gardens and consuming vegetation, to more serious issues involving car collisions with deer.

“We have been talking with St. Louis County about plans to do managed hunts in their parks,” said Shank. “Some of the parks where the deer are especially problematic are Jefferson Barracks, Queeny, Greensfelder and Creve Coeur.

“Jefferson Barracks County Park has one of the highest deer concentrations in the state,” said Shank. “There are 60 to 80 deer per square mile in some of these suburban locations compared to 20 per square mile in more rural locations.”

Earlier this month, the St. Louis County Council decided to allow bow hunters to have controlled deer hunts in county parks, a move prompted by deer overpopulation concerns of nearby homeowners.

Council Member Mark Harder’s bill on the hunts passed in a 5-2 vote. Its passage came over opposition from some county residents who contend the legislation is inhumane.

Harder said his bill would allow Missouri Department of Conservation to organize bow hunts at county parks. He stressed that the deer hunts would occur when the parks are closed and would be closely scrutinized.

Harder’s District 7 covers Valley Park west to Chesterfield, Wildwood and Eureka. Harder’s bill received support from Councilman Member Tim Fitch, whose District 5 also covers part of Valley Park and Kirkwood, as well as Town & Country, Frontenac, Des Peres, Fenton and Sunset Hills.

Fitch: Reducing Herds

“We have had complaints about deer near just about every county park,” said Fitch. “In my district, Love Park and Queeny Park are the main source of complaints on overpopulation of deer. I’ve been working with MDC since January on the best way to reduce the herds in a safe and efficient manner.”

Fitch noted the cities of Manchester and Town & County have been having hunts to reduce the herds in their cities, but then many deer seek refuge in Queeny Park. He said limiting, but maintaining a healthy deer population will ensure that people visiting county parks will always see the animals in their natural habitat.

“Our goal is not to eliminate the deer population – just to control their numbers,” said Fitch. “The MDC has been having managed deer archery hunts in state parks within St. Louis County for many years. What we want to do in county parks is no different.”

Experts with Missouri’s Department of Conservation have been managing archery hunts in Kansas City municipal parks for many years. Animal rights activists have advocated for sterilization of deer as an effective way to manage deer population. According to experts it’s necessary to sterilize many deer to have a any type of impact on population. The cost to sterilize each deer ranges between $1,000 to $1,200.

“Some animal rights activists have said the county should not listen to any ‘expert’ advice provided by the MDC because they make money off of selling hunting permits. I don’t believe that’s a valid reason to ignore advice of experts who work to conserve Missouri’s wildlife,” Fitch said.

“I’m not a hunter,” added Fitch. “I rely on these experts to guide us as to the safest, most efficient way to manage the herds. I have seen people hurt in deer-vehicle collisions many times in my 31 years as a county police officer. Doing nothing is no longer a viable option.”

Powder Valley’s Shank said opinions do run strong about the deer hunts. She said she has fielded many phone calls objecting to culling the herds with the managed bow hunts.

“We try to emphasize that this is a ‘harvest’ operation,” said Shank. “It’s against state law to kill a deer and just let it lay. They have to be used by the hunter for consumption or they have to be donated to a food bank.”

One response to “St. Louis County To Allow Controlled Deer Hunts In Parks

  1. Interesting op-ed in the Friday, January 3, Post-Dispatch by William Ash on how managed bow-hunting is not the answer to deer overpopulation in area parks. I am interested if anyone who visits this blog is familiar with Ash and
    has contact information. This problem is not going to go away.

    Like

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