Downtown Deer

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Published on: Oct. 2, 1997

Last revision: Oct. 27, 2010

works to manage deer populations.

The goal of urban and suburban deer management is to maintain enough deer to make them wonderful and unique without letting them multiply to the point where they inflict suffering and hardship on the people living in the same area.

Population Control

Our urban and suburban deer problems are the result of having a wild population living in a civilized landscape. They might nuzzle us or eat out of our hands, but the deer in our cities are still wild animals. They don't live with us and we don't control their mating habits, as we do our pet cats and dogs. Yet we still must limit that population.

People often propose birth control chemicals to keep deer from propagating. We have the histories of contraception and sterilization efforts tried in other communities to limit deer and the results are not promising.

The typical birth control method involves an initial injection, followed by a booster a few months later and annual injections thereafter. To be effective this expensive procedure requires careful monitoring of the entire population and repeatedly finding and treating individual deer.

Sterilization and contraception probably work on isolated populations, such as those confined within a bordered or fenced area, but our urban populations, which mingle and wander where they will, simply aren't susceptible to chemical control.

Some animal rightists insist we are the problem, not the deer. They say that if we don't want deer in our yards, we should keep them out with fences or repellents.

Keeping deer off our property only shunts the deer to our neighbors' yards and magnifies their problems. Besides it would take a 8- to 12-foot high fence to keep out deer. Repellents - both noise and odor - only work for a short time, if at all. Deer quickly learn what is truly dangerous to them and what is not.

Others propose moving the deer out into the country, where they would be more welcome.

There are places in Missouri that could support more deer, but deer, even in an urban environment, are not easy to catch, and they don't take to confinement well.

Most communities have eventually accepted the fact that the only way to control deer numbers is to regularly eliminate some of the deer. Some hire contractors or sharpshooters to knock the population down.

The Hunting Option

The Conservation Department favors the use of

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