A large audience turned out Monday for an information hearing and question and answer session at the Government Center as city leaders look for public feedback about how to handle concerns over nuisance deer.
The program began with a presentation from Erin Shank, from the Missouri Department of Conservation, to review what is known about the deer population from a statistical standpoint in Creve Coeur and St. Louis County, as well as which efforts are better at maintaining a steady population as opposed to reducing it.
Shank said the research done by Town and Country leads the experts to believe that in the southwest corner of Creve Coeur bordering Town and Country has approximately 60 deer per square mile, and that the range of being considered a nuisance is in the 40 per square mile vicinity.
Shank said that each mitigation approach had strengths and weaknesses. An archery program is low cost, but requires a lot of access to private property and is beter at maintaining a level population than it is reducing the deer population. Sharpshooting is highly effective and efficient in quickly reducing the population, but it is expensive.
Even with a no-feed ordinance, which at first blush would seem to some to be an obvious first step, there are potential enforcement problems, City Administrator Mark Perkins pointed out.
In other words, Shank said as she ended her presentation, "realize there is no magic solution."
Approximately 50 people were in attendance for the presenation. Many, including Claire Chosid, told the audience she felt the problem was impacting a wider area of the city than statistics might indicate.
While residents like Gay Ackerman came armed with photo proof of the damage done by deer and the steps she's had to take to protect her home and property, there were others who said they didn't feel comfortable about safety concerns that bowhunting or sharpshooting could bring.
One resident said under her breath, "I don't want to be part of a society that kills just to get rid of its problems."
Despite those concerns, when Perkins asked if there was conceptual support in the room for a bowhunting ordinance, there was broad support by an informal show of hands, as you can see in the accompanying video.
After the meeting, Ward 2 Councilwoman Tara Nealey, who has been active on researching the issue of deer mitigation said she was surprised by that support, which she also said could be further evidence that the problem is wider than believed. But as she also told the audience, a decision on what to do next is not imminent.
"There's been some suggestion that there's a leaning or inclination. We're not there yet," she said.