The first of 16 public meetings on Missouri deer management started with a crowd of more than 600 people in Springfield last night. I asked Eric Kurzejeski, outreach programs chief and a facilitator for the meetings, how he thought it went. “It was a wonderful turnout with a lot of interest and support for where we’ve been in deer management and for looking at ways to make it even better. I think one of the last comments someone made was that we have to adapt and change what we’re doing as the deer herd changes. So there’s support for working together to do that.” (I added this photo of Eric at a previous meeting. It looks like he’s a tenor delivering some song. He really is a great talker, but he’s a great listener too.)
Some of the changes being considered are expanding the four-point antler restriction to additional counties, and changing the times of the November and antlerless portions of the deer season. You can see the basic content of what Eric and Lonnie Hansen, our deer biologist, are discussing at the meetings on our website. Tonight’s meeting will be at Joplin and tomorrow at St. Joseph. The rest of the schedule is also on that Web link.
Comments from the people attending last night touched on a variety of topics. Just a few of them included: 1) suggestions on ways to improve how the Share the Harvest works; 2) thoughts that some southwest Missouri counties have too few deer rather than too many; 3) concern about the number of deer in cities, such as Springfield, and the need to manage their numbers. Those were just a sample of the diverse comments. I understand that we’ve already had more than 1,400 people fill in comments on our Web suggestion form. It’s very positive to have so many people sharing their perspectives and pitching together to keep Missouri’s deer in healthy balance.