Rapid City’s urban deer management yields many benefits to the city’s residents.
For six days in January, employees of Rapid City, South Dakota sat on apple and alfalfa bait sites to cull their urban deer herd by 100. The effort was part of Rapid City’s annual deer management strategy.
Their deer management strategy is designed to decrease the risk of auto accidents and property damage to city resident’s dwellings.
Prior to the annual cull, city officials conduct a yearly survey in areas of historic deer population. After the survey is complete the results are reviewed and a harvest number is set. This year’s target of 100 deer to be harvested was down from 150 last year and down from a high of 300 in the past.
Mule deer doe, whitetail bucks, and whitetail does were all part of the harvest.
“We hope the reduction of deer indicates our program is working” said Lon VanDeusen the manager of the harvest.
Rapid City’s effective management of their urban deer population has caught the attention of other South Dakota cities, and Sioux Falls has recently contacted Rapid City in an effort to learn from their strategies.
Many other cities around the United States have begun to implement programs aimed at managing their deer herds as well.
An added benefit of the deer cull in Rapid City is the food provided to local low income families. This year’s harvest yielded 3,358 pounds of deer meat that was donated to local food banks. Although the processing of the meat is the largest expense of the deer harvest program, it has wide support from city officials.
Dr. Jeff Olson, leader of the group Sportsman Against Hunger who partners with the city to shoulder the expense of processing, says “We know where the meat is going, and it is going to people who really need it.”
As deer become more and more comfortable in our urban centers, more cities are likely to implement cull programs similar to the Rapid City program.