Shawnee — Park officials in a Kansas City suburb want to bring in sharpshooters next fall to kill about three-fourths of the deer in a park that they say is overpopulated.
If the park board agrees, it will be the first time Johnson County will use sharpshooters on public land, park spokesman Randy Knight said Thursday.
Surveys done in the past two years found 600 to 700 deer in the 2,230-acre Shawnee Mission Park, about seven times as many as expected in the areas just outside Kansas City. The population grew out of control after deer migrated from nearby areas that were being developed, Knight said.
The dense herd is causing car-deer accidents, prompting complaints from neighbors about property damage and raising the risk for tick-borne diseases, they said.
Park staff say the herd needs to be cut to 50 to 200 deer per square mile and this can best be done by killing them. Staff looked into other options and ways other counties have handled deer overpopulation and determined the sharpshooters were the most economical option, Knight said.
The park board will hear the staff’s recommendation Wednesday.
Specially trained park officers and local police would do the shooting, working a couple of mornings a week for several weeks, park officials said. They would work in areas where bait had been set out. The park would be closed but reopen later in the day.
Archers might be brought in later to further reduce the herd. The park would remain open then, although areas in which the archers were working would be off-limits to the public, Knight said.
Nicole Matthews, a spokeswoman for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, said she was disappointed with the recommendation and that the use of archers was inhumane.
Park managers will continue to look into non-lethal ways to control the deer population in the future, Knight said.