After almost five weeks of sharpshooting deer in Town and Country, White Buffalo is finished culling the city's deer herd and headed out of town.
The news of no more guns is a relief to many Town and Country residents, somewhat.
Resident Dorothy Cooke tells Patch she is still very concerned that residents aren't exactly aware of what might be going on in their own back yards.
She feels allowing sharpshooters into the city, also created an opportunity for hunters and poachers come to Town and Country under the veil of the sharpshooters.
"I feel that this situation has been created in large part by you and decisions you have made," Cooke told the Town and Country Board of Aldermen and mayor last Monday.
Cooke said the concerns are valid and residents have previously spotted possible poachers in the city.
"In the fall of 2010 when I was my subdivision trustee, one of the residents of Essex Point confronted two men with guns in a pickup truck next to her home which abuts Sellenreick Road," Cooke said.
Town and Country Police records indicate three possible poaching incidents in the last two years. Those reports can be found in the PDF portion of this article.
However, the recent finding of a what Cooke said is a .22 caliber shell casing in a neighborhood is more concerning to her. She showed that casing to the board at that Monday meeting.
"I have never before been afraid to walk anywhere in Town and Country. But I believe I am now afraid and I believe that there are a significant number of other Town and Country residents that share my fear," Cooke said.
Hera Gerber is the wife of Town and Country Alderman Al Gerber. Both are against the sharpshooting of deer and serve on the city's Conservation Commission. Hera Gerber tells Patch she shares Cooke's concerns.
"Let's think of the logic behind the whole thing. If the city invites sharpshooters to come in and do the, killing, or culling, and harvesting of the deer, the hunters and poachers will use the that opportunity to do it too," Gerber said.
She said throughout the winter residents hear gunshots, but don't really know who's actually doing the shooting.
"They're are always a little bit further away. You can't see them," Gerber said. "A lot of my friends, noticed before they (White Buffalo) were here that they heard gunshots."
White Buffalo wrapped up sharpshooting on Friday with a total of 288 deer killed. However, news the company is no longer shooting in Town and Country is not calming to Gerber or Cooke.
"Once you allow the killing, there will be poachers or hunters that come here and take advantage of that permit. Then how do we know that we can safely walk after they (White Buffalo) leave?" Gerber said.
"That's the concern that I have. Allowing people to come in and shoot. I'm not really concerned that White Buffalo is in my backyard killing deer," Cooke explained. She's more concerned with who else might be in Town and Country shooting guns, and who may still be hunting within the city. "When you allow that behavior to go on and the word spreads, then the thought is if they're shooting deer in Town and Country, obviously they have deer there, maybe I can shoot them too. These people may have no expertise what-so-ever."
Cooke said she's concerned untrained shooters remain in Town and Country and she wants residents to be aware. She also blames city leaders for what she said is a situation where many residents are unaware.
"Perceived miscommunication has blurred traditional roles such that I’m no longer sure who 'the good guys' are. This is evidenced by citizens calling each other rather than the police when they witness unusual activity," Cooke told the board of aldermen last week. "Who has the guns? Who is in our neighborhoods? Police, White Buffalo, MDC, poachers? This confusion and mistrust has only served to compound the fear."
So now Cooke tells Patch it's imperative that residents know White Buffalo is gone and gunshots should no longer be heard.
"There are a lot of individuals in the community that for whatever reason they choose to be uninformed. Most of my neighbors don't know when the shooting started and when it is going to end," Cooke tells Patch. "People need to know the city is finished sharpshooting so if you hear something, you need to report it."
Town and Country Police Captain Gary Hoelzer, who is also in charge of the city's deer management program, tells Patch residents should no longer hear gunshots and if they do, they need to call police.
"We prohibit the discharge of lethal weapons which takes out the hunting. That ordinance takes out firearms bows," Hoelzer said. "If residents see or hear anything that is suspicious, we'd be glad to check it out."
Hoelzer said the city does not want poachers in the area and they negatively impact White Buffalo's work.
"That's one reason that the city doesn't allow the discharge of lethal weapons," Hoelzer explained. "We will actively investigate any types of calls that allege poaching. Poaching interferes with our (deer) management program. They train the deer to avoid our contractor."
Hoelzer said residents should call 911 or police dispatch at 314 737-4600.
Cooke urges residents who hear gunshots to call police.
"You now have a report that police can follow and if they get a number of reports for that same area, then they can look into it," Cooke explained. "Even when the shooters are here, they should still call the police."
She said currently many residents are just ignoring the shots or telling each other their concerns, but they are not notifying police.
As Cooke urges residents to communicate with police, Gerber also urges the city to communicate with residents as much as possible that the sharpshooters are gone.
"How do residents know that they are gone?" Gerber asked. "Are they letting residents know? I am the wife of an alderman and I did not know. How are we going to tell the ten-thousand people here?"
Read Related Stories: