MDC says deer collared for study can be harvested

News from the region
Published Date

St. Joseph, Mo. – The regular firearms white-tailed deer season opens Saturday, Nov. 14, and runs through Tuesday, Nov. 24. Hunters are reminded that they may encounter collared deer in some northwest Missouri counties. Those deer are part of a five-year research project to study deer population and movement. The study is conducted by the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) and the University of Missouri at Columbia.

Hunters are encouraged to harvest collared deer as they normally would under state regulations. The study will include deer mortality, and hunter harvest is an important component of the study, said Emily Flinn, MDC deer biologist.

"To keep the study accurate to what actually happens to the herd, we don't want to alter what happens during deer hunting season," Flinn said. "If a hunter sees a collared deer that they could legally, and would normally, harvest, they should still do so, even if it's wearing a collar."

MDC crews last winter and spring captured and placed radio collars and ear tags on about 70 deer at locations in Nodaway, Gentry, Andrew and DeKalb counties. Then the deer were immediately released. Similar research is underway in a study area in the southern Missouri Ozarks.

Deer populations have declined during the last 10 years in northwest Missouri. However, deer populations vary locally and not all areas have low numbers. Worth, Harrison and Mercer counties have continued to have stable deer harvest trends. Significant declines have occurred in Atchison, Buchanan, Clinton, DeKalb and Holt counties.

Flinn attributes the declines to naturally occurring hemorrhagic disease outbreaks, previous liberalized harvest regulations due to high populations early in the 2000 decade, and land-use changes. An outbreak of hemorrhagic disease, sometimes call blue tongue, was severe in 2012 due to drought.

This year, hemorrhagic disease has been locally moderate in Andrew and Platte counties. The disease is carried by a midge fly. Drought creates mud areas in stream edges where the midge fly can propagate, and dry conditions also concentrate deer near water sources. This year, rainy conditions in spring and early summer prompted flooding and created mud flats in crop fields when the water receded. Then drought struck in late summer and autumn. Cold weather will end problems from midge flies and hemorrhagic disease.

Hemorrhagic disease is different from chronic wasting disease, which has been found in Adair, Linn, Macon and Cole counties in Missouri.

Anyone finding a diseased deer is asked to report the location to their local conservation agent.

Deer populations vary across the Kansas City region, Flinn said. The 2012 hemorrhagic disease outbreak also reduced deer numbers in the region in some locales. Deer numbers should begin to increase over the next few years with a more conservative antlerless deer harvest.

Hunters wishing to boost deer numbers in areas where they hunt can voluntarily reduce the number of antlerless deer, or does, that are harvested.

For information about deer management or the research project in Missouri, contact Flinn at or 573-815-7901, ext. 3619.

Detailed information about deer hunting and regulations is available at

MDC also provides a free MO Hunting mobile app for digital devices at