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Deer Sampling

2017 Deer Sampling Summary
The Board of Alderman executed an agreement with White Buffalo on November 28, 2016 to undertake a deer population census. A survey was conducted over a period of three nights (1/5,1/8 and 1/9) using a methodology called distance sampling. The approach involves using software to project a sampled area and integrating the number of deer observed to determine population density. Spotters from White Buffalo and one Public Safety employee used high powered lights while driving 10mph along 16 miles of roadway representing four sampling routes. Upon sighting deer, the number in each group was recorded along with age and sex of the deer. The same sampling technique was used by White Buffalo to develop our 2016 survey. Overall the study demonstrated a slight increase (15%) in deer density for the area west of I-270, representing an increase in 13 total deer from 2016.

West of I-270 
Spotters only observed deer west of I-270 with numerous observations occurring on Hunter Creek Road, Bourbon Road, Four Winds Farm and Topping Lane. Deer west of I-270 appeared to be evenly distributed. This pattern is consistent with the 2016 results. 

The estimated density for the area west of I-270 is 46.24 deer per square mile, representing a range of 62-164 deer concentrated in that area. The total deer density estimate is 15% higher than last year’s estimate. White Buffalo reiterated that these estimates are pre-fawning with an expected increase in May/June.

The demographics of the population were 48% yearling and adult females, 42% fawns, and 14% yearling and adult males based on observations during the survey. The data indicates a low recruitment rate of 0.8 fawn per adult doe, significantly less than the 1.6 fawns per doe observed in 2016.

East of I-270  
No deer were observed east of I-270 during the sampling period, reflecting the same results observed in 2016. The deer density rate east of I-270 can be assumed to be less than 10 deer per square mile. White Buffalo also noted that residents in this area may experience some conflicts with deer, but the area would typically be considered to have low deer densities.

Context 
The generally accepted standard for urban area deer population is 20 deer per square mile. The West St. Louis County Deer Task Force, in partnership with the Missouri Department of Conservation, has recommended a 15-20 deer/square mile target for West St. Louis County.

Town & Country estimated their deer population at 60-85 deer per square mile (primarily west of I-270) when they instituted their Deer Management Program. The Town & Country Deer Management Task Force has established a goal of 30 deer per square mile.

Deer Management Programs
We’ve highlighted some of the traditional deer management approaches below.

1. Legislation to prohibit feeding of deer by area residents

2. Change in local ordinances to allow deer hunting (usually limited to archery season) on large tracts of land in the city. Hunting typically requires 2+ acres; written permission of the property owner(s); high liability insurance limits -$2.0 million; notice to the local police department. If we want to allow archery hunting within Phantom Forest and Bittersweet Wood, we will need Conservation Commissions approval. In 2016 the Commission estimated they would allow up to 4 bow hunters and a maximum take of 12-16 deer.

3. Herd reduction using sharpshooters from a private firm like White Buffalo.The Conservation Commission requires that all meat from these hunts be donated to charity. Conservation does not allow sharpshooters in their conservation areas

4. Deer Capture and Sterilization

Strategy Going Forward
At this point in time, no decisions have been made on if, how, or when to proceed.  The only decision is to continue to research and develop options for a deer management plan with further discussion following the receipt of future deer population estimates. We strongly encourage residents to report all deer-related activity to the City.

Final Sampling Reports - Please see the following links:

2016 Des Peres Distance Sampling Report

2017 Des Peres Distance Sampling Report