Expansion of Urban Deer Hunt

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The urban portion of Missouri's firearms deer season will be twice as long this year and will include 11 counties in four areas of the state. Besides bringing more opportunities for hunters, the liberalization promises to increase meat donations to Missouri's burgeoning Share the Harvest Program.

Last year the Conservation Commission approved Missouri's first-ever urban deer hunting season. It lasted two days in the deer management units around St. Louis and Kansas City. This year, the event has been expanded to four days (Oct. 8-11) and includes:

--St. Louis and St. Charles counties in the St. Louis area

--Platte, Clay, Jackson and Cass counties in the Kansas City area

--Greene, Webster and Christian counties in the Springfield area

--Boone and Cole counties in Central Missouri.

These counties all have large human populations and high deer population density. As a result, deer-automobile accidents, damage to landscape plantings and other human-deer conflicts are increasingly common.

"Finding ways to control deer numbers in and around cities is one of our biggest deer management challenges," said Conservation Department Resource Scientist Lonnie Hansen. "We are very encouraged that a number of communities are using the Urban Portion of the Firearms Deer Season as a tool for reducing deer problems. We want to make that tool as useful as possible."

Last year, hunters could only use historic hunting methods--muzzleloading rifles, crossbows or bows--during the urban hunt. This year, they can use modern firearms, too.

Regulations for the urban hunt do not supersede local laws. Hunters must check ordinances in the areas they want to hunt to ensure that their chosen hunting method is allowed.

Like last year, hunting is restricted to antlerless deer only. Hunters can buy as many permits as they want for use during the urban hunt. That creates the potential for hunters to take more deer than they and their families can eat.

The Conservation Federation of Missouri hopes this will encourage even more hunters to donate venison to food banks through the Share the Harvest program.

"The urban hunt has tremendous potential to do good things for lots of people," said Dave Murphy, executive director for the Conservation Federation of Missouri, which administers Share the Harvest. "It didn't generate a great deal of interest the first year it was offered, but communities with deer problems are beginning to sit up and take notice. Hunters are excited about having more days to hunt, sometimes in areas where they could never hunt before."

The Conservation Federation is working to develop more local Share the Harvest programs and raise a record amount of money to pay the cost of processing donated deer. That could mean thousands of additional pounds of venison for needy Missourians. "We are really excited about the prospects this year," said Murphy.

For more information about the Urban Portion of Firearms Deer Season, get a copy of the 2004 Fall Deer and Turkey Hunting Regulations and Information guide, available wherever hunting permits are sold. The booklet also has information about existing local Share the Harvest programs and how to set up one in your area.