MDC Study Finds About 37 Deer Per Square Mile In Cape Girardeau

Mar 5, 2013

The Missouri Department of Conservation released the results of its study of Cape Girardeau’s urban deer population at Monday night’s council meeting.

There are approximately 37 deer per square mile within the city limits.

The study was prompted by an increase in complaints about property damage caused by deer, and city council later passed an urban bow hunting ordinance to curb the growing population.

The MDC study is the first of its kind in Cape Girardeau. Teams conducted four deer counts in December, January and February.

Matt Bowyer is a wildlife management biologist with the MDC. He says the social carrying capacity in most Missouri cities is about 40 deer per square mile.

“You start getting more complaints about deer from certain areas. You start to see an increase in vehicle collisions with deer. It really sticks that it’s that 37. It’s pretty close to that. It doesn’t surprise that we’re starting to see that social carrying capacity being reached where deer are starting to become more and more of a problem,” Bowyer said.

Northeast Cape Girardeau has the greatest density of deer, though Bowyer believes it’s hard to generalize exactly where the deer live.

“It mostly coincides with areas that are forested with houses more widely scattered,” Bowyer said. “We can’t really say where exactly that certain area is, but it typically is on the outskirts and the edges of town.”

Urban deer hunting opposition group Keep Cape Safe successfully gathered enough petition signatures to bring the bow hunting ordinance to the ballot, according to opponent Stephen Stigers.

“I think we’ll win,” Stigers said. “I think most people are against bow hunting in the city.”

Stigers says he was not surprised by the MDC’s numbers.

“It’s way, way, way below biological carrying capacity. As far as cultural carrying capacity, there’s not a number for that either because it depends on what people complain about,” Stigers said.

Cape Girardeau residents will vote on the bow hunting ordinance on April 2.