Urban Deer In Montana Can Be A Problem. Can We Hunt Them?
Urban Deer are everywhere in Missoula, and the population seems to be growing. So why can't we hunt them?
Now the answers to this seem pretty self explanatory, but with the influx of out of staters, I thought it would be a good idea to touch base on this subject.
You see them everywhere. Crossing Reserve Street during rush hour, on the UM Campus, heck even eating your veggies out of your garden while looking you in the face because they know their isn't much you can do. Now I wouldn't necessarily call them a problem. They definitely make Missoula "unique" in a sense, but with so many of them, problems can arise. So why don't they "thin the herd" the same as when the FWP issues more tags for a certain area to thin the population?
Well, first off it's illegal for a number of reasons. You can't just go around shooting a high caliber rifle in city limits. Can you imagine? I mean, pure chaos and accidental injuries, death and property damage galore. Now you're thinking "well what about bow hunting them?" Ya, pretty much the same scenario. Plus, let's say it was legal. Bow hunters know that when you do get a clean "kill shot", the animal is still going to run a good distance, possibly miles, before it dies. And it doesn't care where it runs. Across traffic, through possible crowds.. you get the point. Now even then, you have to deal with a dead animal, in public, that you have to gut, drag, and load. All in the face of your would be neighbors and community members. Ya, not a good look for hunters.
The question also arises why you don't want to consume urban deer. Now I have to make a point that this is mostly MY opinion, and doesn't mean if you eat urban deer you will get sick. You see, I don't think the meat quality the same as say, a deer you harvested in the hills. Urban deer, while well fed because of no real natural predators, are eating grass and other "things' from our lawns, gardens, trees, etc. Think of all the chemicals, fertilizers, vehicle oil, antifreeze, and insect sprays that absorb into our local space on a daily basis. This is what ultimately can end up in the deer, and in turn end up in your system if you eat it. A big part of hunting wild game is so you don't have to ingest processed meat filled with steroids and antibiotics. The meat is obviously much healthier.
So what do we do when they officially become too large in numbers and are causing vehicle and property damage? Well, when it gets bad enough, FWP will likely step in as they have in Helena in recent years. In 2008 they approved the trapping and dispatching certain number of Urban Deer. In turn the venison was donated to the local food bank saving the community tons of money in food cost and other expenses. All in all a great plan in my opinion.
With the Urban deer population constantly on the rise here in Missoula, I personally don't think we're too far off from the same scenario, but for now, keep your hunting to safe/legal areas.