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Council may call bow hunters to control deer population

For the second time this year, the St. Louis County Council is considering a proposal to allow area hunters to assist in the controlling of the local deer population. Bill No. 324, which is co-sponsored by councilmembers Mark Harder [R–District 7] and Tim Fitch [R–District 3], would allow the Missouri Department of Conservation to hold bow hunting events in St. Louis County parks as it already does in state parks.

“The goal of managed hunts is not the elimination of deer, but a reduction in numbers,” Mitch Leachman told the council during its Nov. 26 meeting. “[The deer] are part of a natural system. But lacking natural predators, they overwhelm that same system.”

Leachman is the director of programs for the St. Louis Audubon Society, a local environmental group with over 1,500 members. He made it clear he was speaking on behalf of the group and expressing the group’s support for controlled deer hunts in St. Louis County parks. Leachman also noted that the St. Louis Audubon Society has performed over 13,000 hours of service in county parks where volunteers have planted trees and shrubs.

“Unfortunately, most of the 3,300 trees and shrubs planted through our efforts are no longer visible,” Leachman said. He claimed that it is the uncontrolled deer population whose constant grazing has damaged and destroyed these conservation efforts. “Simply put, county woodlands that we know best are overpopulated by deer and dying.”

Michael Meredith, certified Missouri Naturalist and resident of Creve Couer, also spoke in favor of Bill No. 324.

“I’m not one to usually advocate for hunting on public property. However, the deer population in our parks is reaching critical levels that pose problems for both humans and wildlife,” Meredith said.

Earlier in the year, Fitch brought a similar measure before the council only to see the proposal defeated by vote.

Bill No. 324 was passed through its first reading without objection during the Nov. 26 meeting, but will require successful second reading before becoming law.

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