CLAYTON — The St. Louis County Council has agreed to allow archery hunting of deer in county parks starting in the fall in an effort to thin the growing deer herd in the region.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that the legislation became law late last month without a signature from County Executive Sam Page.

The deer season for Missouri bow hunters starts in mid-September.

Page had previously opposed a similar measure when he was a council member, but said in a statement this time that he respects "the will of the council."

The measure allows the state Missouri Department of Conservation to hold archery hunts of deer at county parks. Each scheduled hunt would still be subject to county approval, and council members can block hunts in their district if they don't want them.

Opponents have called the hunts cruel to animals and potentially dangerous to humans. But the Audubon Society said deer grazing undermined efforts to conserve trees and shrubs.