Urban deer hunting opponents plot course

Friday, February 1, 2013
A doe runs out in front of a vehicle Jan. 17 on Old Sprigg Street in Cape Girardeau. (Laura Simon)

For more than a year, the group known as Keep Cape Safe has preached its message of the dangers of urban deer hunting.

With 61 days remaining until voters are to weigh in, those in attendance at a Thursday night meeting arrived at a surprising consensus: If they hadn't convinced the voters by now, they probably won't be able to do so in two months.

"Most people know which way they're going to vote," group leader Stephen Stigers said. "We're probably not going to change that no matter how much money we spend on advertising."

Stigers was among the first to speak against Cape Girardeau City Councilman John Voss' proposal that proponents promise safely will diminish an excess of mostly whitetail deer that contribute to ruined lawns and an increase in car collisions.

But Stigers, who has described himself as a friend to animals, doesn't believe there are too many deer or that there aren't other ways to keep them from grazing on flowers. He formed a group that grew as people expressed concern about how safe it would be to allow resident bowhunters let arrows loose in the city.

Stigers has had heated discussions with those who support the plan that has been implemented in several other Missouri cities. But the work largely has been done, he suggested following the meeting at the Cape Girardeau Public Library. There have been countless discussions, he said. He's presented the data until he's blue in the face, how it doesn't work, in his estimation.

So, he said, in the remaining months, he told the eight in attendance Thursday, they will launch what he considers an informational campaign. For example, he'd like voters to understand what he feels is counterintuitive ballot language. In this election, he pointed out, a "yes" vote in the city's first-ever referendum would be to ban the practice of deer hunting in the city limits. A "no" vote would allow it to be implemented.

"We have to trust that people will read the ballot closely enough to know what the word repeal means," Stigers said.

Stigers believes fundraising is in order in the next several weeks. Some signs would be nice, he said.

Stigers worried Thursday that only eight people had come to the meeting. But not, he said, because he feels fewer people are on his side than before. He worries about the perception the public may have when they learn that their numbers -- normally more than 20 -- have dropped.

"Part of our problem is that it's been quiet," Stigers said. "That will make them think we've lost some momentum."

He refuses to believe that's an indicator the other side is winning.

"It's not that we're opposed to deer hunting in general," he said. "If they want to go out and hunt in the county, that's fine. But if they stop and look at it, they have to realize that there's so many good reasons to vote with us."

And if there are any undecided out there, Stigers indicated he'd still sit down and explain the problem with urban deer hunting

The group plans another meeting within three weeks.



Pertinent address:

711 N. Clark Ave., Cape Girardeau, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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