Managed archery deer hunt could thin herd at Springfield Conservation Nature Center

Published: Oct. 25, 2016 at 9:24 PM CDT
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For the first time, hunting will be allowed at the Springfield Conservation Nature Center.

The three-day managed archery-only deer hunt is scheduled for Dec. 10 - 12 and is part of an effort to control the deer population.

The six hunters, who have already been chosen, will sit in tree stands positioned on the 79 acres of state land, away from each other and residential areas.

Conservation experts say the hunt is a part of a plan to control the deer population in south Springfield, which is triple the size it's supposed to be.

"Urban populations, we try to maintain them to about 20 to 30 deer per square mile. Right now, south Springfield sees numbers triple that," Urban Wildlife Biologist Ashley Schnake said. "Without a predator, you have prey populations increased to the point that disease spreads and then you just have the population controlled through disease and that's something that's not real pleasant to see. You have sick deer and then dying deer."

"There has to be a balance between the number of deer that are present and the number of deer that a habitat can support," Nature Center manager Linda Chorice said.

Most hikers who talked to a reporter at the nature center agree that a managed hunt is in order.

"Good for the deer population. It'll probably make a healthier deer herd," Donald Strong said.

"Hunting, I don't have a problem with it, as long as people are humane," Hannah Williams said.

However, others say, hunting should be taken elsewhere.

"I disagree with it. This park is a quiet place and it's supposed to be a sanctuary," Kate Chase said.

Each hunter is allowed to harvest up to three deer. Walking trails will be closed during the hunt.

To learn more about the Missouri Department of Conversation's efforts to manage urban deer populations, you can attend an informational session on Thursday, Nov. 3, from 7 to 8:30 p.m.