On a sunny Friday morning, Lou Salamone, a Ballwin resident, climbs up a tall Maple tree, bow and arrows in hand, to shoot at his target across his yard: a life-sized, foam deer. Salamone shoots all six arrows, each landing nearly in the same place, where the heart and lungs of a real deer would be.
Salamone says he repeats this routine nearly every day. As president of Suburban Bowhunters, a local deer and animal control company, he said he does not understand why Town and Country won’t give his group a chance to control the city’s deer population. The city of Town and Country currently contracts out to White Buffalo, Inc., for sharpshooting and sterilization services as its lead method of deer control.
“There is evidence to show that we can do just as good as them (sharpshooters) or even better,” Salamone said.
Salamone told Town and Country - Manchester Patch he has attended several meetings in Town and Country on deer management talks since 2007. Salamone said other municipalities, such as Clarkson Valley and Wildwood, have already used his group's services regularly, but said Town and Country officials will not give his company a chance to work with the city or even meet with him.
(Read Previous Story: 2012 Deer Management Plan in the Works)
In tough economic times, Salamone says his group can provide a cheaper solution to deer management.
“My proposal is for so much less money. We are in tough economic times. We could be supporting local groups instead of shipping all the money out of state,” said Salamone, referring to Connecticut-based White Buffalo.
According to a deer-task force report in the board of aldermen’s July 11 minutes, the two-year cost for contracting White Buffalo would be close to $160,000, versus contracting Suburban Bowhunters for a two-year cost of $66,000.
Town and Country Police Captain Gary Hoelzer is the city staff person designated to research, create and issue a deer management report to aldermen as the city develops a deer management program. He said he did not wish to engage in a battle of words with Suburban Bowhunters.
Hoelzer, who recently published his report on deer management (which is included in the PDF portion of this article) in Town and Country, said the city is not interested in bowhunting as a method to reduce the deer population.
Rather, Hoelzer said, bowhunting could be implemented as a way to maintain the deer population's lower numbers in the future, once White Buffalo has reduced the herd significantly.
(Read Previous Story: Town and Country Deer Management Report Revealed)
But ever since Hoelzer’s recent report came to light, Salamone has complained about inaccuracies in Hoelzer’s findings.
“He says we could never reduce the population of deer through bow hunting,” Salamone said. “Why is that? Is there any fact to that? No, there is not. I told him we could do everything they (sharpshooters) could do. He didn’t want to hear it.”
Town and Country Alderman Fred Meyland-Smith, also a members of the city's deer task force, told Patch he believes Hoelzer’s report to be accurate and well-researched. Meyland-Smith also said bowhunting could still be a possibility in Town and Country, but not as a means of reducing the deer population, which is what the city must address at this time.
“We have considered it (bowhunting),” Meyland-Smith said. “They offered a very economical option. What they fail to do is address the fact that their efforts would be volunteer. I am sure they are quality people and bow hunters, however wildlife management is not their profession.”
Salamone, however, said his group is professional and has years of experience working with other municipalities. He said he just wished the city supported Suburban Bowhunters instead of diverting thousands of dollars to an out-of-state deer-management company.
Salamone said he and his group will boycott local businesses in protest to the city’s decision.
“I give up,” Salamone said. “Our course of action now is to fight back by boycotting any Town and Country businesses. Town and Country has a lot of money and they are trying to reinvent the wheel. They are supporting someone from out of state. A lot of that money they are spending comes from sales tax. All we can do is boycott the business, so hopefully the business owners will rise up to what they (aldermen) are doing.”
Salamone said he admits it would probably not do much, but at least will get their message across.
“I doubt it will put any pressure on them, but at least they will know we are serious about it,” Salamone said.
Salamone tells Patch he plans to attend a public forum in Creve Coeur Monday night as that city also looks into methods of deer population control. The forum is at 7 p.m. in the city council chambers of Creve Coeur's Government Center. A representative from the Missouri Department of Conservation will present information and answer questions.
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