The Boonville Police Department will reinstate its annual deer population control program in December to limit the number of car accidents caused by deer in the road.

The department has held the deer population control program every year for about 20 years, and it’s reduced the number of car-deer crashes in Boonville, said Boonville Police Capt. Joe Pangburn. When Pangburn started with the department 19 years ago, he would work three or four crashes every shift during this time of year. Now, he sees car-deer crashes about three times a week, he said.

The number of deer the department harvests each year has also gone down a lot since the program began, Pangburn said. Twenty years ago, officers might take 10 or 15 deer a night, but the last few years it’s been fewer than 10 a year, he said.

There are added benefits of the program like fewer deer harming with people’s plants, he said. The department avoids interfering with hunting season, and it doesn’t kill any deer with antlers, Pangburn said.

“We’re not in the business of taking out the buck population so the hunters don’t have trophy deer to shoot at,” he said.

The department selects a few of its officers who are especially proficient in firearms for the program, and also uses officers from other agencies who have been qualified as snipers. They use small-caliber, high-powered rifles to shoot the deer over bait piles, Pangburn said. The small-caliber rifles limit the chance of the bullet passing through the deer, he said.

The officers only set up their bait on public property, he said. It is easier to maintain control of this process than other methods of population control, like deer poison. There is no chance of someone else being hurt with a trained sniper taking aim at a doe over a bait pile, Pangburn said.

“Some places try to scare the deer away, which doesn’t really help your population management at all, it just moves them around,” he said.

The department makes the most of the deer it kills, donating the meat to people who are on the department’s list for deer meat distribution. Anyone can get on the list by calling the department at 660-882-2727. The department doesn’t limit how many deer you can get over time, Pangburn said.

The department tries to get four or five people on standby when it’s going out to harvest deer. People on the list can also get meat from deer killed in car crashes, Pangburn said.

“Even in the summertime, as long as you get to the meat, there’s nothing wrong with it,” Pangburn said. “It’s just against the law to hunt them in the summer.”