We can remember when it almost was an oddity to see a deer. Now it seems those animals are everywhere, in backyards, opening up store doors, causing havoc when they get indoors and every year it seems they are more of a hazard for motorists.
Then we learn from the Missouri Department of Conservation that Missouri hunters killed more than 204,000 deer during November’s 11-day firearms deer hunting season. That’s a lot of kills!
If the killing of these animals doesn’t concern you, we all must care that three people were killed in firearm-hunting incidents and five people were injured. We do believe that hunters are more safety-conscious today than in decades past, but with thousands of deer hunters out and about, accidents do happen.
We often overlook the economic impact from the deer seasons. This may be a surprise to many, but Conservation officials said deer hunting contributes about $1 billion annually to state and local economies and supports more than 120,000 jobs in the state. Those are no small numbers. We don’t know if those numbers include the cost of repairing vehicles that hit deer and other damage caused by deer, especially if they get inside a building. We know they cause some damage to crops also.
The Department of Conservation does an efficient job of analyzing every deer season. For instance, deer kills were up in the southern part of the state this year because there was a poor acorn crop in those counties. The department noted that southern Missouri is heavily forested so acorns are a large part of deer diets in the fall and winter. When acorns are scarce, deer are forced to move around more and they gather near other food sources, making it easier for hunters to find them. Also, the deer population has been increasing in the southern counties and declining in the northern part of the state.
The department said the exact number of kills was 204,668 in the firearms season, which is a 7.7 percent increase over last year, but slightly below average for the past 10 years.
As the deer population increases, and more urbanization occurs, the less fear they have of being near people. We doubt if many will become pets. They’re too big, too costly to feed and they are adept at jumping fences. We don’t think we will hear the words, “Had to take my deer to the vet today for shots!”