By Melissa Miller
Responding to deer-related calls is consuming more police department resources, nuisance abatement supervisor Ty Metzger told Cape Girardeau's Deer Management Committee on Tuesday.
"The deer population is growing and obviously it will continue to grow," he said. "As the city limits expand, we're expanding into habitats where deer already exist. As that habitat decreases, these deer are becoming urban," Metzger said.
Through Dec. 9 of this year, nuisance officers have responded to 115 deer-related calls -- more than twice as many as just three years ago. That number doesn't count other patrol officers who may respond to deer-related calls during nighttime hours when nuisance officers aren't on duty, Metzger said.
On average, it takes two officers 30 to 40 minutes to complete a response to a deer call. Traffic officer may also have to assist slowing traffic down so nuisance officers can go get the carcass and get it removed from the road, loaded into the truck and disposed of at the city's transfer station.
Deer-related calls are coming from all over the city and not just during breeding season.
From Dollar General Store on Broadway to the Sunny Hill Nursery on Kingshighway, Metzger said he's received several reports of injured deer from businesses within the city.
Damage from deer ranges from car accidents to deer crashing through sliding glass doors of Cape Girardeau homes. Deer have entered and damaged two homes this year, one on Green Acres Drive in May and one on West Cape Rock Drive in November.
"You don't want to shoot a deer in somebody's house." Metzger said. In one instance the deer escaped through the window before officers arrived. In the other, Metzger helped make a path through the home for the deer to get out. In both instances, the homes sustained significant damage, he said.
In 2009, Metzger received a complaint from a property owner on Mallard Street that a deer had given birth to three fawns in his yard. He wanted the city to remove the deer, but Metzger said neither he nor the Missouri Department of Conservation took any action.
"It's just nature," he said.
Metzger, who is an avid hunter himself, said within the city deer will continue to multiply because they don't have the same predators found in nature.
"You've basically got Mother Nature, cars and people," he said.
While the city doesn't allow hunting within its city limits, it is happening, Metzger said. A nine-point buck was recently shot illegally on Scott Lane, he said.
"The goal of an urban hunt, if it does occur, is to make sure there are more ethical people out here doing it the right way," Metzger said.
Allowing ethical hunting also puts pressure on the poachers, committee member Dru Reeves said.
Committee member Beverly Weakley said she's concerned about potential dangers if hunting is allowed in the city.
"Educated hunters are going to do the right thing," Metzger said. "There are already people out there doing it. Sneaking in your backyard and doing it the wrong way."
The committee's next meeting will be at 7 p.m. Jan. 10, with a presentation by Russell Duckworth of the Missouri Department of Conservation.
401 Independence, Cape Girardeau, MO