Springfield Conservation Hosts First Deer Hunt at Nature Center

putting the ozarks

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — For the first time, the Springfield Conservation Nature Center is allowing archers to hunt on its grounds.

It’s a three-day managed hunt in an effort to reduce the herd of urban deer.

The six hunters, who were randomly selected out of 75 back in July, will be allowed to hunt a total of 18 deer from elevated tree stands on the nature center’s 79 acres.

“A lot of people don’t realize they need management until it’s too late. Until populations are so high. It’s a struggle to get those populations down,” says Ashley Schnake, Missouri Department of Conservation Urban Life Biologist.

Conservation experts say the managed hunt is one component of a city-wide strategy to control Springfield’s urban deer population which is triple the size it should be.

“We’re doing it for the health of the deer. Once deer reach a certain population, we have biological controls such as sickness or starvation that come in to help control our deer population.”

Linda Chorice is the nature center’s manager and says there has to be a balance between the number of deer that are present and the number of deer that a habitat can support.

“Healthy deer populations require management. When there are too many deer, it not only affects the deer but also all kinds of wildlife,” explains Chorice.

Each hunter is allowed to harvest up to three deer.

“So a hunter is just acting like a predator on the landscape in helping to keep those numbers down. So we’re not having a bunch of deer dying from illness or starvation,” says Schnake.

Josh Romo was one of the six randomly selected to hunt this weekend and told KOLR10, “My family – we don’t actually buy a whole lot of meat from the store. A lot of it comes from hunting. So I’m a big proponent from woods-to-table sort of speak.”

Romo says the managed hunt is good for the deer population.

“They know it’s not just a hunting opportunity for them. They know they are assisting Springfield with the urban deer management,” explains Schnake.

“It’s a good feeling to know that you can help the ultimate goal helping the long-term health of the herd,” says Romo.

Conservation experts say the managed hunt is set to take place annually until they can get deer populations down.

The Springfield Conservation Nature Center’s hiking trails will be closed through Monday.

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