There's an ongoing discussion in Cape Girardeau about possible white-tailed deer management within the city limits. While the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) is not advocating on either side of the discussion, we are here to help the city council and residents by providing information on what's worked in other areas throughout the state. The MDC has experience working with deer management in urban areas surrounding Springfield, Kansas City, St. Louis and Columbia. Though this issue is new to Cape Girardeau, it's not new to our state.
Various methods are on the table, but there's a consistent question I've heard throughout the discussions in Cape Girardeau about what an urban hunt would mean for the city, especially in regards to safety. It might help to look at statistics from the National Safety Council data.
In 1995, the National Safety Council compiled numbers of recreational injuries across the country which required emergency room treatment. The graph above represents the injuries per 100,000 participants in their survey. Football and baseball came in with the highest number of injuries, followed by soccer, bicycle riding, skateboarding, horseback riding, tennis, golf, swimming, badminton and then finally hunting related injuries.
My son plays baseball and soccer -- and I sometimes worry that he might be injured. To counter this, I arm him with shin guards for soccer and he'll have the appropriate safety gear when baseball season comes around as well. He also practices regularly throughout the season, and quite a bit before.
The same precautionary mindset is required for hunters. Hunters in Missouri must attend a lengthy hunter education course which is focused on safety and ethics. In urban hunting situations, there is additional training and orientation required before an archer can thin the herd on their property. Safety is the top priority whether a person is hunting, fishing, kicking a field goal or riding a bicycle.
Here are some statistics that might help relieve some of the mystery surrounding hunting and safety:
|*||No bow hunting related injuries have been sustained by nonhunters in Missouri.|
|*||Most bow hunting injuries citied are self-inflicted, such as falling from a tree stand.|
|*||Since 2002, bow hunting accidents account for less than 2 percent of the total hunting accidents/injuries in the United States. Hunting (all methods) remains one of the safest forms of recreation in the country.|
|*||Hunting is 14 times safer than golf and 293 times safer than football.|
|*||February 2007 marked the 50th anniversary of hunter education in Missouri. Along with that anniversary, the Missouri Hunter Education Program recognized its 1,000,000th graduate, a milestone that few states have reached.|
|*||Since Missouri made hunter education a requirement for purchasing a hunting permit, in 1998, the hunting incident rate in Missouri has reduced by almost 70 percent.|
I hope this information will put some minds at ease. I have great respect for Missouri's hunters who are mostly highly ethical and conscientious individuals. Whether they're hunting whitetails inside or outside of the city limits, safety is always the priority.
To find more information on hunting safety in Missouri and throughout the United States, go online to mdc.mo.gov and also check out National Safety Council reports.