Whitetails in the City
When municipalities around Missouri’s metropolitan areas were incorporated, no one dreamed that deer would adapt so well to suburban life. This adaptability, coupled with city ordinances banning the use of firearms and, in many cases, archery equipment, allowed for the rapid growth of deer populations.
Today, deer are so abundant in many of our communities that deer management through hunting is sorely needed.
Suburban deer management through hunting can easily become a political hot potato, however. Old laws and old beliefs are hard to change, even when deer become so numerous that they start causing problems for the people who live near metropolitan areas.
In the end, the hard decision-making is left to local elected officials. They are the ones who have the ability to change firearms or archery ordinances to allow for deer hunting and, therefore, deer management.
“Cities have a leadership role,” said Jim Page, an Independence city councilman.“They need to step forward, working with the Missouri Conservation Department to educate the public on what the problems are with deer overpopulation, such as deer/vehicle collisions, property damage and herd health. If a city is not willing to step up and work on deer issues, then nothing is going to get done.”
Fortunately, several communities around St. Louis, Kansas City and Columbia have embraced that leadership role, creating solutions to suburban deer management in different but equally successful ways.
St. Louis County is home to 90 municipalities, each with its own set of ordinances and elected officials. Because deer overabundance is largely concentrated in the western section of St. Louis County, municipalities from that area decided to join forces and tackle the problem together. The West St. Louis County Deer Task Force formed in September 2003. It was made up of representatives from 10 area municipalities and four agencies.
“The deer herd size will continue to increase, and there will be a point in time when it will be unacceptable to the community,” explained Skip Mange, a St. Louis County councilman. “The task force was formed to outline just what options municipalities have for deer management.”
The task force completed a review of the wide variety of issues involved in managing suburban deer. After two years of researching and reviewing the topic, the task force generated recommendations for deer management in west St. Louis, with the primary focus on population control through archery hunting.
Putting these recommendations into action, the suburban St. Louis cities of Clarkson Valley and