City of Sioux Falls To Harvest 50 Deer In 2017
139 Deer Killed Last Year By Cars In The City
For the third year in a row, Sioux Falls Police and Animal Control will harvest deer within city limits. As part of a deer management plan, they have removed 75 deer in the northeast and southeast parts of the city in the last two years. This year, South Dakota game, Fish and Parks has given them the green light to harvest 50.
Archery Outfitters Owner Kim Meester said, “Winter months, as we get the cold weather and snow, they’ll migrate together and kind of herd up.”
Meester doesn’t have to look far to find deer. Just outside his building, west of Interstate 229 near Rice Street, we spotted a half-dozen.
Meester said, “The population will peak, probably 40 deer on our property.”
A total of 139 deer were killed in car crashes in the city in 2016. It’s along the I-229 and Rice Street corridors that Animal Control says the majority of deer are struck. Meester says he’s worried that the number of deer vs. car crashes in the area are increasing after a fence was removed as the city works on a sewer project in the area.
Just east of the Interstate and north of Rice Street, officers recently counted 96 deer within a 3 square mile area.
“That’s roughly 32 deer per square mile, which is about 12 deer per square mile more than we would like it to be,” said DeJong. “Twenty deer per square mile is a lot safer for cars, for people, and at that population level we see a lot less damage to property, a lot less damage to gardens, backyard trees, that sort of thing, but also, a lot fewer accidents on the roadways.”
Last week, officers found a herd of 40 deer in Tomar Park. It’s these areas where the city will be harvesting deer in 2017.
DeJong said, “We are removing deer for a depredation reason so we do bait the areas we are going to work in. Some areas have blinds set up on the ground.”
Animal control says 16 people are qualified to harvest the deer. They say they will use special suppressed rifles with a sub-sonic round so they don’t travel far, and don’t create a lot of noise.
“Our permit is for antler-less deer so we are targeting does. Does are the ones that help the population grow so quickly,” DeJong said.
But an archery program has also helped the city with deer management.
Meester said, “Everybody had to do a proficiency test so the mentors could determine their yardage, whether it was 10, 15, or 20 yards and then they were held to that.”
Mentors were allowed to hunt with first time youth, women and the disabled at Archery Outfitters. They harvested eight deer this winter.
“Nature has a cruel way of taking care of itself if the population gets out of hand with disease and that, so it’s far better doing it this way,” said Meester.
The meat from the deer will be donated to local food banks. The city has to complete the operation by Feb. 28. They will likely start it within the next few days.