Plan would use archers to control urban deer

Monday, April 19, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 3:53 a.m. CDT, Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Missouri Department of Conservation is making a proposal to allow archery hunting during deer season on some city property in an effort to curb the urban deer population in Columbia.

“The bottom line is that we have problems with urban deer, and it’s going to get worse if we don’t take action,” said Lonnie Hansen, a resource scientist with the MDC. “Statewide, their population is probably fairly stable,” he said. “Where it is increasing is in our urban areas, and Columbia is no exception.”

The problem

The urban deer population has resulted in increases in car accidents and nuisance complaints by residents. The Columbia Police Department handled 49 accidents involving deer in 2003.

A report is slated to be submitted at the City

Council meeting tonight asking the council to consider implementing a more proactive deer management program.

Currently, bow hunting is permissible in the city, but not on city property.

“This is a subject that we have spoken of conceptually quite frequently,” Fourth Ward Councilman Jim Loveless said.

Effects of the proposal

Under the proposal, property where archery could be allowed includes portions of the landfill, the wastewater treatment/wetlands property, Water and Light’s property on Oakland Church Road, city property along

Perche Creek at Strawn Rd., L.A. Nickell Golf Course and areas in the back of Cosmo Recreation Area.

Hunters would register with the city and a standard set of policies would be established regarding deer stand construction. The report also encourages increased archery hunting on privately owned city tracts.

Loveless said the council has not discussed the details of the proposal and may end up referring it to the staff for further work.

Park Services Division manager Mike Griggs said archery on specific areas of city property is just one tool that can be used to help curb the deer population.

“This is just one step in a multifaceted program, in a total deer management program,” said Griggs. “You take all these together and it starts making a dent in the problem.”

The success rate of archers is not extraordinarily high, Loveless said. Though only 20 percent of archers bring back a deer, he said any deer removed from the breeding population is a plus.

“Certainly there will be a need to deal with the public perception of hunting in general,” Loveless said, citing the fact that only 30 percent of Missourians actually buy a hunting permit. He emphasized a need for a public education campaign if some city property is opened to hunters.

“If someone is using the park and is not aware that (hunting) is going on, certainly that would be unnerving,” Hansen said. “We need to do a very good job of advertising and getting the message out to the public that this would be occurring.”

Archery hunting

Boone County takes more deer by archers than any other county in the state, according to Hansen, though the number taken by firearms is still more than three times that amount.

“Archery hunting is probably the safest hunting activity and one of the safest sports,” said Hansen. He said archers generally hunt from an elevated stand and shoot down at a very short distance.

Hansen said he would prefer to see the deer population controlled though hunting and not by vehicles.

“There are always people who feel we shouldn’t be hunting deer to begin with,” said Hansen. “We have people causing damage and injury to themselves and vehicles because of deer accidents.”

Hansen said that deer are very adaptable and that annual survival rates for them increase every year. Without hunting, long-term consequences could include deer ultimately exceeding their carrying capacity and the health of the deer would be in jeopardy, he said.

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