Deer in the City

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Published on: Nov. 2, 1999

Last revision: Nov. 3, 2010

average $1,000 to $2,000 in damage per accident and can result in injury or, in extreme cases, human deaths.

Still, the benefits of having deer near your home or on your property are immeasurable. Most people are excited to see a white-tailed buck or a doe and her fawns in the summer or fall. Seeing deer usually helps our minds relax and, even if only for a brief moment, think of things other than our busy lives.

Studies show that properties adjacent to large natural areas have more value than those that are surrounded by intense development. Even if we don't see deer every day, just knowing they exist near our homes and jobs can be comforting.

Economic benefits from having a healthy deer herd statewide are obvious. Deer watchers and hunters spend money for food, lodging, travel, equipment, taxes and licenses, benefiting Missouri and its wildlife management programs. Missouri has a strong deer hunting heritage that helps us "link" to our ancestors, who depended on deer for food and clothing to help them survive. Today many Missourians depend on deer hunting to help them cope with the rigors and stress of modern day living.

There are many benefits to a healthy deer herd, as well as numerous drawbacks to a herd out of balance, and the solution to the urban deer management puzzle is not simple. Many factors must be considered when managing deer, including varying opinions of what constitutes too many or too few deer; arguments over what constitutes property damage; increasing deer/vehicle collisions; anti-hunting sentiment; recreational and economic benefits from hunting; human safety; deer herd health; ecosystem balance; wildlife viewing and photography opportunities.

The Conservation Department attempts to balance social and natural components to keep deer herds at healthy levels for humans and the rest of the natural world. No single solution will work in all situations. Many of these issues are discussed in the new video, The Urban Whitetail Challenge, available for loan at Conservation Department offices.

Deer Facts:

  • Deer are highly adaptable and thrive even in urban environments. They are present in all 114 Missouri counties.
  • Parks and other green spaces provide excellent habitat for deer and other wildlife species.
  • Hunting remains the most cost effective and best way to control deer numbers.
  • Relocation of urban Missouri deer is expensive, and many deer that are captured and relocated die due to stress.
  • Contraceptives for deer are experimental and are not a practical control method at this time.

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