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Park closed to public for managed deer hunt

BONNE TERRE – Shooting deer in a state park is usually not allowed.

But Joe Blum, superintendent of St. Francois State Park, said they will be closing the park to the public Dec. 17-18 for a managed deer hunt.

The reason – there’s too many deer in the park.

Blum said this will be the third managed hunt in the park. The hunters, about 80, have been picked already. Hunters had the opportunity to sign up in August and were selected lottery-style.

He said they base the decision on whether or not to have a deer hunt on several different studies of the park. He said when deer start eating non-preferred vegetation that means there are probably too many deer. He estimates there are probably 26 deer per square mile rather than the preferred goal of 20 per square mile.

Blum said they want to reduce the deer population to protect the park’s ecosystem and the safety of park visitors and motorists on nearby U.S. 67. There have been accidents on U.S. 67 near the park because of deer.

The hunters will be able to take three antler-less deer.

&#8220We’re trying to remove the does from the area,” he said.

But most of the hunters won’t get their three deer. In the two previous hunts, hunters have killed a total of 100 deer.

&#8220If they remove 50 or 60, we’ll be very happy with that,” he said.

By law, state parks are established as wildlife refuges and hunting is not permitted except under special circumstances. However, these special hunts are being used as a resource management tool. Six other parks are having managed deer hunts this month.

The hunts will be conducted following guidelines established by the Missouri Department of Conservation, which regulates hunting in the state.

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