Shawnee Mission, Kansas – It wasn't on the agenda. But opponents of a plan to reduce the deer herd in Shawnee Mission Park showed up anyway at last night's Park Board meeting. More from Laura Ziegler.
Under threatening skies about 25 protestors from grandparents to teens gathered outside the Johnson County Parks Administration Building.
Jason Miller organized Bite Club KC, a grass roots animal defense group, to fight the deer harvest. He says many were appalled the Johnson County Park Board would cull the herd by allowing sharpshooters and bow hunters into the park; "We don't think there's a deer problem, we think there's a people problem. We basically overdeveloped and pushed the deer so there's no where for them to go."
Randy Knight, Community Relations Manager for the Park District, says with 200 deer per square mile the park has almost 8 times too many animals to sustain a healthy ecosystem for a park its size. But Knight says this issue is particularly divisive; "And I guarantee you that tonight, if we rescinded the decision, at the next board meeting we would have a room packed just as full that would be arguing the other side of the case and how dare you."
The Johnson County Park Board is not scheduled to take up the issue again before the hunt later this fall. Trained sharpshooters will make the first attempt to reduce the herd. If they don't bring numbers down enough, "elite" bow hunters will have an opportunity with the herd, according to park officials. The park will be closed during these times.