State of the State’s Deer Herd

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Published on: Jul. 15, 2013

are of greatest concern.

Predator Populations

During the past few years there has been in­creasing concern regarding the effect of preda­tors, specifically coyotes, on deer populations. While there have been several coyote preda­tion studies in the southeastern U.S., those results are not applicable in Missouri because coyote populations have historically been present in Missouri, but are relatively new to the southeast. Additionally, recent investiga­tions suggest that southeastern coyotes differ in behavior and appearance from their Mid­western counterparts. While admittedly out­dated, research in Missouri has shown that deer make up a small portion of a coyote’s diet and much of that appears to be the result of scavenging on deer and not killing. Regardless, significant increases or decreases in carnivore populations can influence deer mortality rates, especially of fawns.

Missouri Deer Management Mission Statement

The mission of the deer program is to use sci­ence-based wildlife management to maintain biologically and socially balanced deer popula­tions that provide quality recreational opportu­nities and minimize human-deer conflicts.

Regional Breakdown

Statewide population trends are misleading when discussing localized deer population dy­namics. Therefore, localized or regional informa­tion is more indicative of actual deer population trends observed by hunters and the public. How­ever, there can be considerable variation within a region or even a county. Therefore, regional information should be considered as a starting point when evaluating local deer populations.

Central Region

There is great variation among deer populations within the Cen­tral Region. Parts of Audrain, Boone, Callaway, Cooper, Howard, and Saline counties have experienced population declines in the past decade as a result of multiple hemor­rhagic disease outbreaks (2007, 2010, and 2012) and high doe harvest. The poor acorn crop boosted the 2012 deer harvest in Cole, Camden, Gasconade, Maries, Miller, Morgan, and Osage counties, increasing by 12 percent from 2011 and 6 percent greater than the 10-year average. It is expected that localized areas will have smaller deer populations over the next several years. As a result, a reduction in doe harvest permits in some Central Region counties is necessary to overcome population declines.

Kansas City Region

Harvest in the Kansas City Region in 2012 was down 6 percent from 2011, which follows a general trend of reduced harvest across the rural areas of the Kansas City Region over the past decade. Coun­ties with the greatest decrease in the 2012 har­vest compared to the 10-year average were Platte, Bates, and Pettis, while Benton County increased. A

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