Letters to the Editor

As a Town & Country alderman and former mayor, blessed with a keen love of the outdoors and of both wildlife and people, my preference is for an overall "master plan" for humane community wildlife management. I support a combination of methods: direct, swift, professional culling of our exploding deer herd, along with an experimental component. I reluctantly support translocation, despite its intrinsically inhumane, lethal and expensive character, and it also deprives people of the opportunity to contribute much-needed protein to area food pantries, because translocation could also lead to the crucially necessary thinning of the deer herd.

However, I decry the rhetorical, hypocritical excesses of the denial crowd, including those of Mayor John Marx, who rise to oppose responsible civic actions about deer and return home (hopefully safely) to a steak dinner. We can only be thankful they have not yet noticed the beautiful symmetry of spiders.

Peggy Symes

To the Editor:
Your coverage of city issues over the years has been thoughtful and enlightening. Your newspaper is a welcome addition to the journalistic diversity of St. Louis.

The article "Grim Harvest," by Jeannette Batz (RFT, Nov. 25), provided thorough coverage of the recent meeting to discuss the urban deer issue in Town & Country. It leaves readers with some misperceptions about the Missouri Department of Conservation, however.

The author expresses surprise that conservation "often means hunting." Indeed, it was the hunters and anglers in the state who, in the 1920s and '30s, became concerned enough about the precipitous decline of wildlife to take action to establish a nonpolitical state conservation agency. For 40 years, they financed the effort to bring back wildlife populations. Missouri's restoration of deer, wild turkey, bald eagles, peregrine falcons, paddlefish and many other species has been successful, thanks to public support and a scientific approach to wildlife management.

Some of these animals -- deer and turkey, for example -- are game animals that can be hunted during regulated seasons. Hunting helps keeps wildlife populations at healthy levels; deer overpopulation is healthy neither for the animals nor for the people.

According to a 1996 Gallup survey, 24 percent of Missourians consider themselves hunters. The author attempts to make a distinction between being an environmentalist and a conservationist. We don't consider these mutually exclusive, but it is interesting to note that 67 percent of Missourians consider themselves environmentalists, while 90 percent approve of hunting game animals for food.

The Conservation Department is concerned about the loss of habitat that is squeezing wildlife into smaller and smaller areas. We're committed to working with citizens throughout the state to find good solutions to the resulting wildlife conflicts. A "good" solution is one we define as safe, efficient, economical and causes the least trauma to residents and the wildlife to be controlled. No matter what solution is chosen, it will not please everyone.

The author of "Grim Harvest" opposes hunting, and this bias is evident in the article. The Conservation Department hopes readers will seek information that helps them make up their own minds about urban wildlife issues.

Readers who would like to learn more are invited to subscribe to the monthly magazine referenced in the article, the Missouri Conservationist. It is free to adult Missouri residents. They may write to: MDC, P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City MO 65102-0180; phone 573-751-4115; or access our Web page at www.conservation.state. mo.us.

Readers are also invited to visit Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center, 11715 Cragwold Rd. in Kirkwood (phone 301-1500), to enjoy the rewards of their support for conservation.

We hope you'll continue your coverage of wildlife and other nature-related topics relevant to the St. Louis environment.

Kathy Love
District Administrator
Missouri Department of Conservation

To the Editor:
I loved your "Commentary" about the Town & Country deer "problem." It was so funny and right on the mark.

I have an idea. Maybe one solution would be to relocate a large percentage of the Town & Country population so that some of the land can be returned to the deer and there will be less residents to complain about them. Surely there is a tract of land where a sanctuary can be established for a population of whiny and selfish ex-residents of Town & Country. We could truck in all the modern appliances and electronic gadgets to make sure the sanctuary can accommodate them in the style they are used to. Of course, this wouldn't be cost-effective, so maybe euthanasia would be best. We could send the meat to homeless shelters in the city. I bet their meat would be really tasty (and nutritious, too), since they can afford to eat a well-balanced diet. Maybe it's time for the wealthier residents of the metro area to (literally) give a little bit of themselves to help the deer and those less fortunate.

Amy Shehi

To the Editor:
Your recent article "Grim Harvest" and correspondence from elected officials has prompted me to become a more informed citizen regarding the deer-management issue. It seems that there has been much wrangling among the key parties over the last few years, with a definitive resolution. Until now....

The mayor and the members of the (Town & Country) Board of Aldermen have a golden opportunity to do what the will of the people has expressed, as compiled in the survey. A record 792 responses were tabulated from across the four wards. It is very clear that the citizens support deer-control efforts that are humane (77 percent) and nonlethal (72 percent). It is interesting to note that of the 792 respondents, 66 percent have had some damage from deer eating their gardens, yet they still voted in favor of nonlethal methods and to continue seeing deer (64 percent).

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