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Ellisville aims to save a few bucks by handling deer problem in-house

ThinkstockPhotos-160101700The city of Ellisville is bringing down the law on its deer population.

On Aug. 19, the Ellisville City Council indefinitely suspended a city ordinance that allowed for backyard bow-hunting, and also approved a new action plan that will see Ellisville’s own police officers thinning the deer population.

The plan, one of three proposed to the city council on Aug. 19, will cost the city an estimated $12,150 for a 10-day hunting cycle.

Ellisville Police Chief Tom Felgate told the council that the city would purchase two silencers for police issue rifles, 500 special bullets designed to prevent over-penetration and corn to be used as bait. The rest of that money will go towards overtime pay for two police officers and one public works employee during the hunts, as well as $100 dollars per deer culled. The deer meat collected would be donated to the Share the Harvest program, which distributes the meat to families in need.

One of the other options Felgate presented to the council was to contract with White Buffalo, a deer culling service used by nearby Town & Country. This service would cost the city $300-$400 per deer killed and processed over a 10-day period. Culling 50 deer would cost around $20,000 with the White Buffalo option, according to Felgate.

The current deer population for the city is approximately 52 deer per square mile.

Mayor Adam Paul said the city needed to drop the deer population to 30 or below per square mile.

Councilmember Dan Duffy (District 3) said that once the deer population is brought under control, the city may not have to engage in hunts for quite a while.

“If we get down to, say, 25 per square mile, its going to take them a while to get back up,” Duffy said. “It took them a fairly long time to get this many.”

Felgate said that the department will choose specific areas in which to hunt, though those areas have not yet been determined.

“We would choose areas that would obviously be the safest areas, and that could be from a tree stand so all shots are directed down to the ground, or some place where there is a dirt berm in the background so we know there’s not going to be shots going where they’re not supposed to be going,” Felgate said.

According to Felgate, hunting the deer isn’t far outside an officer’s typical duties. Local police are often called on to put wounded deer out of their misery, he said. In 2013, Ellisville police were called on to destroy 12 deer. In 2014 and 2015 they put down 23 and 10 injured deer, respectively.

Lou Salamone, of Suburban Bowhunters LLC, spoke during public comments at the Aug. 19 meeting, and said that if the city wants to try experimenting with a new deer management system and incurring costs related to that, the city should also make itself friendlier to bow hunters.

“They should use the police for more important issues, not hunting deer,” Salamone said. “Do not stop bow hunting, fuel it forward.”

In a work session on Aug. 19, during which the audience was treated to several deer-related puns, the council approved a motion giving Felgate the green light to move forward with the plan.

During the council’s discussion of the options Felgate had presented them with, Paul spoke in favor of letting police handle the deer problem.

“I love deer. I love animals, but I think that this is the most efficient and effective way to nip this problem in the buck,” Paul said.

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