Shawnee A suburban Kansas City park is grappling with a whitetail deer population that is so large that it could pose a threat to other wildlife, a fragile ecosystem and the health of around 2 million people who visit the park each year.
Shawnee Mission Park, which spans about 1,280 acres in the state’s most populous county, possibly has the highest deer density in the U.S., a state wildlife official said.
“They’ve got 200 deer per square mile. We don’t have anything anywhere else near that magnitude,” said Lloyd Fox, big-game program coordinator for the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks. “There’s some land owned by KU north of Lawrence with about 33 per square mile. That’s about as close as we come.”
The overabundance is taking its toll on vegetation, forcing the deer to compete for food and clearing the park of wildflowers that once thrived there. It’s also bringing in ticks that can carry diseases, harmful not only to the deer, but also to humans who use the park.