By Katie Link
COLUMBIA- With deer season just around the corner, conservationists are stepping up to curb poaching in the area.
Missouri Department of Conservation reports an average amount of poaching so far this fall, but protection regional supervisor Tom Strother told KOMU 8 he's weary of more occurrences as the weather changes.
"Most poaching seems to occur when nice cold weather seems to hit but so far we haven't had the really cold snaps yet, it's been pretty mild temperatures," Strother said. "When the temperature gets cooler the deer move a bunch more and people get into that thought of poaching because now they're seeing more deer move around."
Strother said an increase in poaching may be linked to an unsteady economy.
"When it comes to poaching the years that we do see upticks in activity seems to occur whenever the economy seems to struggle a bit more," Strother said. "Folks might not have the money they normally would have in a normal year to purchase their food so they refer to methods that might not be legal,"
Additionally, poaching increases when acorn crops are down. Strother said a good acorn crop means deer are more likely to stay in wooded areas out of view from poachers. When acorn levels are low, deer move to other less wooded feeding areas where they are more visible.
A hemorrhagic disease outbreak among deer population in 2012 impacted both legal hunting and illegal poaching.
"We've had some disease outbreaks that really hurt the deer population in Missouri," Strother said. "Which might make poaching activity increase because the deer populations are lower than what the public has seen in past years, so again if there's a deer there and I really want it, I better do whatever I can to get it before the next guy does and that might increase poaching."
The Department of Conservation implements new techniques as well as traditional ones to catch poachers in the act. Traditional methods such as driving marked cars, speaking with landowners consistently, and posting signs are being mixed with airplanes, cameras, and other high-tech methods to end illegal killing of deer.
"We want to catch the poachers," Strother said. "The community can be our ears and eyes, we're good partners."
The Department of Conservation encourages people to call local conservation agents if they spot any unusual behavior. A list of some of those numbers is below:
-Boone County: 573-239-6541
-Callaway County: 573-239-8129
-Camden County: 573-836-4503
-Cole County: 573-690-6295
-Glasconade County: 573-220-2249
-Linn County: 660-591-2251
-Macon County: 573-673-0009
-Maries County: 573-619-3344
-Miller County: 573-280-7892
-Moniteau County: 573-864-9814
-Monroe County: 660-651-0218
-Morgan County: 573-378-0763
-Osage County: 573-690-3989
-Pettis County: 660-619-4012
-Phelps County: 573-202-9438
-Randolph County: 660-651-3940
-Saline County: 660-641-3345