CLAYTON — Deer hunts are coming to St. Louis County parks this fall, as legislation passed by the County Council became law on Dec. 26 without a signature from the county executive.
The County Council on Dec. 10 voted 5-2 to allow the state Department of Conservation to hold archery hunts of deer at county parks. The first hunt would be this fall. The deer season for bow hunters in Missouri begins in mid-September.
County Executive Sam Page allowed the bill to become an ordinance by not acting on it within 15 days. As a member of the council, Page had previously opposed a similar measure.
Vetoing the bill would have put Page in the awkward position of forcing a council vote to override the veto. That was common under his predecessor, Steve Stenger, but has not happened since he took office April 29.
“I respect the will of the council,” Page said in a statement.
The proposal, by council members Tim Fitch, R-3rd District, and Mark Harder, R-7th District, would allow the state Department of Conservation to hold archery hunts of deer at county parks. Each scheduled hunt would still be subject to county approval. Under the legislation, council members can block hunts in their district if they don’t want them.
“We received so many calls about the overabundance of deer from constituents and municipal leaders that we had to do something,” Harder said in a statement.
Harder said it would be up to state conservation and county parks officials to determine the dates and locations of hunts, and said they would be held in the parks with the highest concentrations of deer. The state will begin in February to notify prospective hunters of upcoming hunts.
He said more information would be released at a news conference at noon on Tuesday at Edgar M. Queeny Park with state conservation officials, the Audubon Society, Harder and Fitch and other local officials.
Several members of the public spoke out against the bill, calling it cruel to animals and potentially dangerous to humans. But the Audubon Society said the deer’s grazing had undermined its efforts to conserve trees and shrubs.