Cape group wanting referendum on deer hunting ordinance says it has 4,258 signatures

Friday, August 17, 2012

Members of a Cape Girardeau group opposed to an ordinance that would allow deer hunting inside the city limits are confident they've gathered more than enough signatures to place the issue before voters, but say their work on the issue is far from over.

Applause broke out during a meeting of Keep Cape Safe held Thursday night held at the Cape Girardeau Public Library when the number of notary-verified signatures was announced -- 4,258 -- and organizers believe by the time all are collected and turned in that there could be as many as 4,400.

Group organizer Stephen Stigers called the efforts by volunteers to collect signatures during last week's primary election and going door to door a "huge success."

The group will continue to collect signature sheets through Tuesday and hopes to turn those in to the county clerk for official certification by the end of next week. Only 2,446 signatures were needed on the referendum petition -- which city officials say is the first in the city's history -- in order to get the issue before voters.

The petition, once certified, will suspend the ordinance passed by the city council in July.

"We are absolutely in the clear for this hunting season," Stigers said.

Keep Cape Safe members say they hope the city will rescind the ordinance before the issue can be placed on a ballot because they say they do not want to spend taxpayer money on election costs and do not believe council members want to, either. A special election held for the referendum could cost $25,000, city officials have said, while adding the referendum to a ballot in a regularly scheduled election could cost $15,000. Group members said Thursday they question the election costs and plan to look into costs further.

The consensus of the group is that if the referendum makes it to a ballot, the language of the ballot measure could affect the outcome.

"We are going to have to get people to vote 'yes' to repeal the ordinance," Stigers said.

The issue of deer damaging property and cars in the city came up in council earlier in the year and resulted in the ordinance. It would allow bowhunting in city limits with certain restrictions.

The group says it will continue to focus on the safety of residents, which they believe is at risk, in the case that deer hunting is eventually allowed in Cape Girardeau.

Keep Cape Safe is also attempting to extend its reach on the issue online with the website www.keepcapesafe.com, which site creator and group member Scott Howes said is becoming prominent among online searches related to opposition to deer hunting.

eragan@semissourian.com

388-3627

Pertinent address:

401 Independence St., Cape Girardeau MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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