In June, the City Council approved initial efforts to reduce the population of white-tailed deer in the City of Wildwood. The City plans to work with a nonprofit organization, White Buffalo, Inc., to cull up to 300 deer this winter, as authorized by the Missouri Department of Conservation. This would be the first year of a multiyear effort planned to reduce the deer population density to a preferred density of 40 deer per square mile within the City. The deer culling effort for this winter is planned for the area of highest density deer population (outlined in the map below), based on the 2020 deer population counts completed by the Wildwood Police Precinct. The area totals 5.53 square miles in size and has a deer density of 94 deer per square mile, and thus an excess population of 54 deer per square mile.
Click here Version OptionsDeer ManagementHeadline to view the interactive map outlining the project area identified for this winter's efforts.
The first year of the program is expected to cost $216,000. To achieve a meaningful reduction of the deer population citywide, from an overall level of approximately 73 deer per square mile to a goal of 40 deer per square mile, it will require a multi-year effort. Assuming a five-year deer reduction program, White Buffalo Inc. would hunt each winter within one of five designated areas of the City to cull an estimated total of about 1,000 deer over 30 square miles.
White Buffalo, Inc. aims to cull up to 300 deer within the project designated area. Deer will be attracted to the designated properties by baiting, which will commence a minimum of two weeks prior to the culling effort. White Buffalo Inc. utilizes professional sharp shooters to cull the deer. Their work will be reviewed and approved by the Missouri Department of Conservation and the Wildwood Police Precinct. It is anticipated that the culling effort will begin in January and be completed within six weeks.
All White Buffalo Inc. personnel, including field technicians and sharpshooters, will carry valid permits issued by the Missouri Department of Conservation. White Buffalo, Inc. will arrange for the transportation of culled deer carcasses to a commercial meat processor, with all venison donated to local food banks. White Buffalo, Inc. will be required to record the age and sex of each culled deer. Age is determined by evaluating dental characteristics. A final report detailing results and other data must be provided to the City and Missouri Department of Conservation by April 15, 2023.
Negative Impacts of Deer Overpopulation
In the City of Wildwood and many other suburban areas, the local populations of white-tailed deer now exceed healthy and sustainable numbers. Unchecked herd growth raises a number of concerns, including resident safety and health, environmental and property damage, and animal welfare. These concerns are outlined below:
- Safety: High deer density in Wildwood poses a significant safety threat to motorists, leading to increased Deer-Vehicle Collisions (DVCs) and related incidents. These incidents burden first responders and result in costs for the City and private citizens.
- Aesthetics: Disposal of reported carcasses on MODOT and City Rights-Of-Way are handled by said entities, at the expense of taxpayers, but disposal on private land is at the landowner’s expense. In cases where disposal is not efficiently managed within 48-72 hours, deer carcasses can become too fragile to handle and are left to undergo the unpleasant process of decomposition. This not only leads to aesthetic problems for residents but also raises health concerns for both people and pets. Furthermore, it attracts unwanted scavenger animals, creating additional issues within the community.
- Animal Welfare: Overpopulation causes suffering for deer and other animals due to competition for resources, injuries from DVCs, and increased transmission of infections and parasites.
- Environmental Damage: Excessive deer herds harm local ecosystems, leading to declines in biodiversity, invasive plant growth, and habitat degradation, affecting agriculture and aesthetics.
- Health: Deer can transmit various diseases to humans, livestock, and pets, including Lyme Disease, Babesiosis, and Covid-19. Rising deer populations correlate with increasing disease cases.
- Property Damage: White-tailed deer cause damage to crops, landscaping, yards, and gardens in Wildwood, contributing to erosion issues, particularly in riparian areas.
2020 Deer Population Survey
The Wildwood Precinct completed an extensive deer counting effort over the winter of 2020-21. The results of that effort indicate an average deer density of 71.5 deer per square mile, which was measured over six (6) regions or more than 30 square miles of the City. Based on the limited amount of data, the 95% confidence band for deer population density ranges from 58.4 to 87.4 deer per square mile. This deer density is well above historic levels of 15-20 deer per square mile (prior to European settlement). See the full survey results at the link below.
Deer Strike Analysis
One of the top contributing factors to crashes in the City of Wildwood in 2022 was animals in the roadway. As with previous years, most of the crashes involving animals in the roadway are related to deer. White some deer strikes are reported to police, many go unreported resulting in less accurate statistics. To best account for deer related crashes, statistics are gathered from crash reports, computer aired dispatch records, and euthanasia totals. In 2022, because of apparent vehicle crashes, some unreported, 51 deer were euthanized by officers of the Wildwood Precinct. The tables provided below show the breakdown of the deer related incidents in the Wildwood between 2018-2022. When looking at the months in which deer strikes were most frequent, it appears that more deer strikes occur in the fall/winter months with a spike in November. You can review the full 2022 Annual Vehicle Crash Analysis at the link below (Deer Strike Analysis covered on pages 38-41).
- 2022 Deer Management Report
- Missouri Department of Conservation
- Report Dead Animal in Public Right-of-Way
- Highlights of Hunting Regulations
- Please Don't Feed Wildlife
Property Owner Participation
Agreements with property owners, allowing White Buffalo Inc. to utilize their property (3-acre minimum size), will be obtained in advance. The City is seeking property owners who might be interested in participating in the program. If interested, please fill out this form, and the City will contact you.
If you have any questions, please contact the Department of Public Works.