After calls from residents about deer eating their landscaping, Manchester aldermen are trying to learn what constitutes a deer problem and what are some options to manage deer if the city determines it does have a problem.
Erin Shank, urban wildlife specialist with the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), spoke to the Manchester Board of Aldermen Monday night about suburban deer management. Shank reviewed what MDC looks at to determine deer population issues and explained options to Manchester city leaders.
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"Deer management has changed in St. Louis County over the last 10 years," Shank explained.
Shank said there are some factors city leaders need to keep in mind when making a decision on whether to implement a deer management program.
Mid October to mid December is the whitetail deer breeding season, also known as the rut, which Shank said is peak time for vehicle versus deer collisions. The other peak time is fawning, when the young are born, which is late May and early June,
Shank included the following suggestions for non-lethal methods of deer control, but said they are more of a damage control tool versus population control.
- Scare Tactics
- Deer Resistant Plants
- Road Warning Devices
- Prohibit Supplemental Feeding of Deer - Shank pointed out that Town and Country has passed such an ordinance.
Shank also explained non-lethal sterilization, where deer are trapped or darted and then sterilized. This was done in Town and Country.
"It's very expensive and it becomes more expensive as more deer are sterilized. In Town and Country 130 does were sterilized. It costs about $1,000 per treated deer," Shank explained. "It's really not that effective for deer population control."
Shank cited the following options for effective population control.
- Archery Hunting - Adequate access to land is key here and may not be an option in Manchester. All deer are harvested and the meat is used for either the hunter's choice or the Share the Harvest Program a food bank.
- Sharpshooting - It's expensive and sharpshooters have to be hired. They also have to be allowed on land. The deer meat is required to be donated to the Share the Harvest Program.
- Trap and Euthanasia - Deer are baited and trapped, and then euthanized in the same way as meat processing using a "stunner" which is a non-projectile device. Shank said it's expensive and inefficient.
Of all the methods, Shank said the sharpshooting is the most effective.
"This is a highly effective and efficient way to control the deer population, however, it is very expensive," Shank explained. "On average it costs $400 per deer."
Shank said ultimately it's up to the city to decide if deer management is right for them.
Mayor David Willson, and some aldermen, expressed concern over the lack of open land for hunting in Manchester and pointed out Manchester does not have any "reserve" type areas like other surrounding cities where controlled hunts have taken place. Willson said he will meet with other area mayors this Friday and that will be one of the issues he discusses with them. Many of the mayors, including Town and Country Mayor Jon Dalton, have already implemented deer management programs in their city's and Willson said he hopes to learn more from their experience.
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