HomeOutdoorsNewsCity’s Plans for Using Sharpshooters To Manage Deer Herd Not Sitting Well With Residents

City’s Plans for Using Sharpshooters To Manage Deer Herd Not Sitting Well With Residents

by Brett Stayton
Herd Of Deer Standing In Yard
Photo by Lana 2011/Getty Images

A deer hunt in a city park in Missouri is raising some concerns with local residents. The hunt is part of plans for managing the deer population within Sugar Creek Park in the town of Des Peres. Some neighbors say that signs about the hunt were a surprise. Meanwhile, others say they have safety concerns about hunting so close to residences.

Frank Marstiller is one of the local residents speaking out against the hunt. “When we saw the sign that was put out, I saw it Friday that said there’s a deer management hunt that’s going to go on. We, the entire neighborhood, assumed, I guess the bow hunters are going to come, and then we got into the fine print and realized these are sharpshooters with rifles.”

Fellow resident Thomas Greenman echoed those frustrations. “I don’t care how good they are. A stray bullet from a high-powered rifle can go a couple of miles to houses and danger. Dougherty Ferry Road, which is right next to the park, is a major east-west commuter drive. Who knows, it might hit a car.”

It’s A Specialized Management Hunt, Not Recreational

It’s important to note that the sharpshooters are part of a management plan for the park. This is not a recreational hunting opportunity or open to the public. Douglas Harms, the Des Peres City Manager reiterates that the hunt is safe. The city has contracted with a company called White Buffalo to conduct the hunt. “White Buffalo has a 20-year plus history of doing this nationwide without incidents,” he said. “The Department of Conservation has licensed them to do this. They’ve been doing the same thing in Town and Country for well over a decade with no incidents of any kind. There are a lot of protocols in place, like shooting from elevated platforms, so the shots are downward. Shooting from the perimeter of the property inward toward the property, not out towards the subdivisions.”

The hunt will last from January 18th – February 1st. Doug Harms said there is simply no way around the hunt. Complaints about conflicts with the deer populations are greater than concerns about the hunt.

“We’re getting the same complaints that everybody else west county is getting about deer-car collisions, about dead deer along the side of the road,” Harms said. “Calls about deer hung up on fences where we’ve got to go euthanize them.”

Sharpshooting As A Deer Herd Management Strategy

Again, amidst frustration about plans for the hunt, it’s important to remember this is about managing a deer herd that has outgrown its threshold for a particular area. According to White Buffalo, the sharpshooting techniques have approval from the American Veterinary Medical Association as a humane form of euthanizing deer.

Sharpshooting to manage overabundant deer populations requires trained personnel to use a variety of techniques that maximize the safety, discretion, and efficiency of their shooting. This method is often implemented in suburban and urban settings with access to both public and private lands. Costs can range from $200 to $400 per deer for sharpshooting and processing is an additional $70-$125 per deer. Typically all meat will get donated to area food shelters for distribution.