Should Managed Deer Hunts Occur in Rockwoods Conservation Areas?
The annual—archery only—managed deer hunt on Rockwoods Range Conservation Area in Wildwood started Nov. 1 and lasts through Dec. 31. A two-day, muzzle-loaders' hunt is set for Nov. 26 and 27 at Rockwoods Reservation. Good ideas?
This year's "archery only" managed deer hunt on Rockwoods Range Conservation Area is under way, and will conclude Dec. 31. A separate, two-day managed hunt for muzzle-loaders, also is scheduled for at the Rockwoods Reservation located off of Missouri Route 109.
Some residents are asking if hunting in otherwise preserved outdoor spaces is necessary.
Rockwoods Reservation houses the conservationists' headquarters and adjoins St. Louis County's Greensfelder Park to the south, which itself abuts the state's Rockwoods Range Conservation Area. Together, these three parcels make up a contiguous Green Belt of nearly 5,000 acres. The Range, which was acquired in 1943, is accessed from Fox Creek Road in Wildwood; in general, is one of the most primitive, open outdoor green spaces in the area. The Reservation is set up for hiking and camping, while the Range has parking but is geared more toward equestrian and biking uses. It has no picnic areas or public restrooms, for example.
Rockwoods Reservation was established in 1938, and it includes the Conservation Education Center. Authorities said the Reservation is basically shut down to other operations during the annual two-day hunt.
Missouri Department of Conservation resource technician Dan Cavanaugh said hunters must remain 50 yards from the boundary, and must park in designated areas. Hunters are not authorized to use or cross personal, residential property without permission from individual landowners, he said.
Wildwood Resident Glenn Stafford shared with Eureka-Wildwood Patch his concern about such hunts when he directed them to local conservation managers:
First, the taxes I pay are to conserve wildlife and provide outdoor enthusiasts a place to enjoy the outdoors, not for a select group to hunt deer.
I am very upset the state allows deer hunting in a wildlife Rockwoods Reservation. I spend many evenings over the year walking and observing the wildlife in the Rockwoods Reservation. This is the third year of deer hunting there. Hunters devastate any chance of seeing deer there for several months after their special Managed Deer Hunt.
It seems there are many places to hunt deer in the state without allowing in the reservation near the residential Wildwood area.
Stafford received an email response from Forestry District Supervisor for Rockwoods Range and Reservation Gus Raeker, on which Patch was copied.
"Thanks for your email to express your concerns about the managed hunt at Rockwoods Reservation! I regret to hear how much the hunt has upset you. Although I don’t expect to convince you to agree with our management decisions, I thought I’d provide you a little more information about the hunt and why we hold it," emailed Raeker.
He said it's the 11th year for the managed hunt at Rockwoods Reservation, and that it is scheduled for two days at the end of November, which are typically days of low public use, to minimize inconvenience to area users.
"It is important to note that providing hunting recreational opportunities is not the primary impetus for this managed hunt. Rather, the hunt is used as a management tool to help keep our local deer herd at a healthy population level," stated Raeker.
Raeker said there are no longer any significant natural predators of deer to keep their numbers in check.
"Without some form of proactive management, deer population numbers grow to the point where they are in serious competition for food resources, more vulnerable to diseases, and have a serious impact on the health of local natural communities," he said.
Raeker said a demonstration of the potential impact of heavy deer browse can be seen at Rockwoods where we have a small deer exclusion pen to compare and contrast the browse impacts from deer. The amount of green native vegetation within the pen is amazing compared to outside where it is exposed to deer browse, he stated.
Read previous article: Managed Hunt Still in Effect
"A couple of weeks ago I drove out of Rockwoods in the evening and saw five different groups of deer before I got to the entrance. I am actually looking outside my window at two does as we speak," said Raeker.
"I share your passion for these opportunities to view deer and other wildlife. We structure our deer hunt in a manner to help ensure that these opportunities persist through the maintenance of a healthy deer population and healthy natural communities to support them."