News Release 642

Ha Ha Tonka State Park will host managed deer hunt Dec. 11-12

Volume 38-642 (For Immediate Release)
For more information: 573-751-1010

JEFFERSON CITY, MO, NOV. 15, 2010 – Ha Ha Tonka State Park near Camdenton will allow hunters to enjoy a rare opportunity to harvest a whitetail deer in the park during a managed hunt designed to alleviate deer overpopulations on Dec. 11-12, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources announced today.

During the hunt, the park will be closed to everyone except the deer hunters.

By law, state parks are established as wildlife refuges and hunting is not permitted except under special circumstances. The special hunt is being used as a resource management tool because it has been determined that the deer population is too large for the environment and that resources in the park are in danger of being damaged.

 “We don’t want deer to become so numerous that they harm the park, its natural area or the surrounding resources,” said Bill Bryan, director of the department’s Division of State Parks.

Indicators that deer numbers have been increasing at the park include visible signs such as the extensive browsing on plants and wildflowers in summer, large numbers of tree seedlings and saplings being clipped in winter, and even visible browse lines where most foliage within reach of deer is being consumed. Last winter, a helicopter flight over new snow confirmed 215 deer, which equates to more than 40 deer per square mile, within the boundaries of the park. The goal is to have a level no higher than 25 deer per square mile, which is more sustainable for the park’s resources and creates fewer issues with highway safety, gardens, crops and other resources on private land around the park.

“Although this is a new development at Ha Ha Tonka, if such high numbers continue they could cause long-term damage to the park’s plant and animal life, as well as problems for the community,” Bryan said. “Our goal is to bring down the number of deer in the park so they are in balance with the environment. Once that balance is reached, the goal is to maintain that number so the deer and the park vegetation are both healthy,” Bryan said. The park and its resources will continue to be monitored to determine deer population and its impact and whether a hunt will be needed next year.   

The hunts will be conducted following guidelines established by the Missouri Department of Conservation, which regulates hunting in the state. Hunters who will be participating submitted special applications this summer for MDC's special managed hunts. Hunters were selected by MDC through a random computer drawing. Only those hunters who already have a special permit will be allowed to participate in the hunt. For the special hunt at Ha Ha Tonka State Park, 100 hunters have received special permits and they will be allowed to hunt using modern center-fire firearms.

"We have been allowing special hunts to reduce deer overpopulations in state parks since 1986. They have worked well for the park, the community and the neighbors," Bryan said. “Since hunting is a part of our heritage, it is good that we can provide hunters with such unique opportunities to help us manage the deer herd, and provide protein for the family table, or for another family through the Share the Harvest program.”

The majority of the park’s 3,710 acres will be part of the managed hunt but the areas of the park bordering the residential area will be closed to hunting for safety reasons. The entire park will be closed to the general public both Saturday and Sunday for safety reasons. Only hunters who already have the required special permits will be allowed in the park. 

Ha Ha Tonka State Park is one of four parks that will host managed hunts on Dec. 11-12.  The other parks inviting hunters to help with deer management by enjoying a unique opportunity to harvest a deer include Crowder State Park near Trenton, Cuivre River State Park near Troy, and Stockton State Park near Dadeville. All four parks will be closed to the general public during the hunts.

For more information about state parks and historic sites, call the Department of Natural Resources toll free at 800-334-6946 (voice) or 800-379-2419 (Telecommunications Device for the Deaf) or visit mostateparks.com.

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