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Bowhunting in county parks approved as deer population rises

County leaders say the hunts will be closely monitored and organized to ensure the safety of park visitors.

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — St. Louis County is taking steps to control the deer population.

On Dec. 10, the St. Louis County Council approved a bill allowing the director of Parks Department to permit the Missouri Department of Conservation to facilitate archery hunts in county parks. 

A press release said the hunts are to regulate the population of deer in parks, which run from 23 deer per square mile in Chesterfield to a high of 157 deer per square mile in Jefferson Barracks County Park. 

According to county leaders and law enforcement, there's only been one way to buck the problem of overpopulation of deer in parks so far.

They say deer accidentally hit with vehicles used to be one of the only ways to control the population, and that's dangerous and expensive.

A certain number of permits will be issued to hunters on a lottery basis for the September through January bow season.

Lawmakers still haven't decided how many that will be.

We also don't know how many county districts will approve bow hunting in their parks, each councilman has the option of opting out. 

Local leaders say the deer population is getting out of control and is now destroying some of the habitats for other wildlife. 

They also blame the disproportionately high deer population for thousands of dollars in damage to vehicles.

It's why the county council voted to approve bow hunting in county parks. 

"We have watched our population grow from about 26, to 3 years ago it was about 42 deer per square mile and we're going to be taking that count again and we're expecting it to be about 55 to 60 deer per square mile," said Manchester Mayor Mike Clement.

Clement has seen the whitetail takeover first hand, it's why he's one of the supporters of allowing controlled bow hunting places like Queeny Park.

Conservation officials say there's nothing to worry about since the hunts will be organized and carefully monitored.

It's why park regular Jack Goltsschman says he's all in.

"I had a nurse who worked for me who's husband was killed by an arrow and that was out in the woods where you wouldn't expect something like that happening,"

Bowhunting will be popping up in public parks throughout St. Louis County.

"An arrow through a person wouldn't make much sense, would it? And neither would a deer going through the windshield of the 16-year-old going down Mason Road," explained Goltsschman.

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