Missourians care about conserving forests, fish and wildlife and conservation makes Missouri a great place to hunt, fish and enjoy nature. Sometimes, however, living with wildlife nearby can become a problem and can cause damage to crops, gardens, orchards, lawns and property.
This is also the time of year when many injured, sick or orphaned wildlife issues arise. The Wildlife Code of Missouri has rules and regulations that not only help to protect and conserve Missouri’s forest, fish and wildlife, but there are also rules in place to help landowners protect their property from wildlife that is causing damage.
White-tailed deer, turkeys, endangered species and all migratory birds causing damage may not be killed without the permission of a Conservation Agent. In these instances, a landowner must first contact their local Conservation Agent. The Agent must then document the type of damage occurring and develop a strategy for eliminating the problem. With endangered species and migratory birds, there is not a lot that can be done.
However, wildlife damage permits can be issued to landowners who are experiencing excessive damage to crops from white-tailed deer.
The most common types of wildlife damage occur from coyotes, foxes, raccoons, rabbits, skunks, squirrels and groundhogs. Preventative measures often work better than any control method, such as enclosures, electric fence or cages. If preventative measures do not work, these animals can also be controlled at any time throughout the year, without permit, by hunting or trapping. Any wildlife that is killed or trapped for damage control purposes must be reported to a Conservation Agent within 24 hours and must be disposed of in accordance with instructions from the Agent. Live traps are the most common and most effective method for reducing wildlife damage. Live traps are not lethal, are inexpensive and easy to use and allow the release of unintended targets such as dogs and cats. The use of any type of chemical or poison to kill wildlife is strictly prohibited.
Most animals that are reported sick, injured or orphaned are just fine, especially deer. Adult does spend very little time with fawns and it is very common to find a young fawn alone. This also applies to other young wildlife.
The best plan is to leave wildlife in the wild. It is illegal to take wildlife into possession that you believe to be sick, injured or orphaned.
Citizens cannot take wildlife into their possession to raise, even if they are sick, injured or orphaned.
We have seasons to help control wildlife populations which limits wildlife-human conflicts to achieve a healthy balance.
Attempting to save every animal we run across is counterproductive to those efforts. If animals are wounded and suffering, contact your local Conservation Agent for assistance.