To fight a growing deer problem at Oak Hills Golf Center, the Jefferson City Parks and Recreation Commission has approved the maintenance staff at the facility to hold a private archery hunt.
The whitetail deer population at the public golf course has been increasing over the past few years and is damaging the golf course greens and newly planted trees, Golf Course Superintendent Bryan Braun stated Tuesday in a memorandum to the Parks Commission. Repairing the damage is "time consuming and costly," he added.
The Missouri Department of Conservation recommended the Parks Department "harvest the deer" to eliminate or lessen the damage the growing deer population causes, Braun stated.
Braun also recommended the golf course maintenance crew do an archery hunt — which would not be open to the public.
"This is the safest and best way to rid the nuisance at the course," said JJ Gates, assistant parks director for the Jefferson City Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department. "Staff knows where (the deer are) at and know where the neighborhoods are at."
The maintenance workers are "experienced hunters" and will "keep safety a top priority," Braun added.
Deer killed during the hunt would be donated to the Share the Harvest program, Braun noted. Administered by the Conservation Federation of Missouri and the Conservation Department, the program allows deer hunters to donate surplus venison to people in need.
The maintenance staff will have to follow state law and conservation regulations during the hunt, Conservation Department News Service Coordinator Lucas Bond said. A golf course manager may also create specific regulations, he added, such as limiting the hunters to certain areas of the golf course.
"As long as the hunters that are hunting on the golf course follow the regulations that any hunter should during bow session — permits, harvesting a doe or a buck, stuff like that — that's all the regulations they need to follow," Bond said.
Having an archery hunt at Oak Hills is allowed as long as the arrows do not leave the property, City Counselor Ryan Moehlman said.
The Parks Department does not know how many deer will be killed, Gates said, but the MDC and Oak Hills Golf Course staff will discuss this prior to the hunt.
Missouri's archery deer and turkey hunting season is Sept. 15 to Nov. 9 and Nov. 21 to Jan 15, 2019, according to the Conservation department's website.
A date for the Oak Hills Golf Center hunt has not been set yet.
Parks master plan finances
In other business Tuesday, the Parks and Recreation Commission voted to send a reimbursement resolution to the Jefferson City Council for approval. The resolution is needed for the Parks Commission to receive bonds for future parks master plan projects, commission President Brad Bates said.
"We can either slowly progress and take a small bite at the apple with each passing year or look at tools other communities use and take a bigger bite," Bates said regarding the bonds.
The Parks Department hopes to seek $11 million in bonds, Parks Director Todd Spalding said, while paying $750,000 annually in debt service.
The commission approved placing $1 million in its 2019 budget as a place holder for the debt-service payments, but Spalding gave the commission a 10-year budget forecast showing $750,000 annually in debt-service payments. Spalding said he was more comfortable with this annual debt-service payment amount.
If the council approves the resolution, Moehlman said, the department could receive a bond in late winter or early spring.
While Community Park is "at the top of the list," Bates said, commissioners suggested they hold a special meeting to prioritize projects, potentially before the council reviews the resolution.
The council may vote on the resolution in early November, Ward 3 Councilman Ken Hussey told commissioners.
The parks master plan was adopted earlier this year. The top five priority parks listed are Community Park, East Miller Park, Hickory Adams Park, Park Place Park and Ellis-Porter Riverside Park.