Hunters in 19 counties in northern and central Missouri are being encouraged to kill more deer this fall and winter.
The Missouri Conservation Commission has lifted the antler-point restriction and is increasing the number of antlerless permits available per hunter from one to two, in 13 more counties in northern and central Missouri. The changes have been made in counties in and around where deer have tested positive for chronic wasting disease.
The Department originally implemented special management practices in the counties of Adair, Chariton, Linn, Macon, Randolph and Sullivan after the discovery of deer that tested positive for CWD. The Commission has extended that zone to also include Knox, Scotland, Schuyler, Shelby, Putnam, Boone, Callaway, Cole, Cooper, Miller, Moniteau, Morgan and Osage Counties.
Deer biologist Jason Sumners says the goal of these changes is to fight the spread of that disease.
“Once CWD becomes established, it extremely difficult to eradicate. Mostly likely, impossible to eradicate,” Sumners told Missourinet, “so our management efforts really become focused on trying to slow or limit the spread of the disease.”
The antler point restriction prohibits hunters from shooting deer with fewer than four points on one side of a rack. It protects young bucks, and Sumners says those bucks’ behavior makes them likely to spread CWD.
“Those young bucks, we know, disperse long distances and so they present an opportunity to create additional sparks, so from a management standpoint it’s inappropriate for us to have a regulation in place that prohibits those individuals that we know could definitely spread the disease long distances from being harvested,” said Sumners.
Allowing hunters in those 19 counties to take two antlerless deer instead of one could keep the populations there from growing, or even reduce them.
“As deer populations increase the risk of transmitting the disease also increases as well,” said Sumners.
The Commission is considering requiring testing of all deer killed in the first week of the fall season in those 19 counties, barring the movement of deer carcasses from those counties, and expanding to all of those counties a prohibition on feeding deer. Those are already recommendations made by the Department of Conservation, and public comment on the proposal to make them regulations can be offered at the Department’s website.
26 free-ranging deer and 11 captive deer have tested positive for CWD in Missouri, all in central and northern Missouri.