Some see the deer in Craig as a blessing of rural, Western living; others see them as pests, Mayor Don Jones said.
No one disagrees that Craig has its share of deer, but what to do about them remains a sticking point for city representatives and the Colorado Division of Wildlife.
The Craig Deer Committee, a citizen group unaffiliated with local government, formed in about February 2007 after the City Council received a petition from residents asking it to somehow control the deer population. Jones is a member of the committee, along with interested residents and a DOW officer.
The committee has conducted three counts inside city limits, and believes there are about 300 deer living in Craig.
If some or all of the deer have to go, which is the Craig Deer Committee's position, then the question becomes whether the animals should be kept alive and moved or whether they should be killed.
The Deer Committee and DOW officials most recently met Dec. 18 to hash out the various options.
Jones said his preferred plan is to trap deer in town and release them elsewhere.
Bill de Vergie, DOW area wildlife manager, said his office is talking with DOW Director Tom Remington and the agency's state veterinarian about legal requirements for relocating an animal population and what disease testing is required.
Spreading Chronic Wasting Disease is a chief concern, de Vergie said. However, Jones, doesn't understand why that would prevent the agency from taking deer out of Craig.
"Chronic Wasting Disease is throughout Moffat County, anyway, and Routt County and Rio Blanco County," the mayor said. "It's nothing new."
Other options include trapping the deer in town and killing them or hiring White Buffalo to come in and remove the deer. White Buffalo is a private company that can trap and relocate deer, use fertility control methods to limit the population or kill deer in town.
Neither the mayor nor de Vergie see extermination as a viable option.
"That doesn't seem to be palatable to the community," de Vergie said. "One neighbor might want deer gone, (but) another neighbor wants them. One neighbor might want nothing to do with them, (and) one neighbor is feeding them with bird feed."
Jones said shooting the deer would be a waste of meat, but options may be limited.
"On the one hand, if the DOW won't let us trap and relocate them, what can we do?" he said. "But then again, if we have to trap and kill them, who will pay for the processing?"
Either way, it's not likely the deer naturally will migrate away, Jones said.
"Most of these deer were born and raised here," he said. "They're city deer. Will they migrate? Maybe from the west side of town to the east side."
Jones added he doesn't want every deer in town gone. If officials could cut the population in half, then it wouldn't be near as big an issue.
Safety is his biggest concern, not his landscaping. With 300 deer in town, and about half of them females having babies every year, it won't be too long before the town is inundated.
When that happens, there could be traffic accidents and safety problems across Craig, Jones said.
Division officials should have an answer about the relocating plan within a few weeks, de Vergie said.
He added one way to curb the deer population in the meantime is to enforce existing laws that prohibit residents from feeding animals except out of bird feeders.
"We are working on it," de Vergie said. "Are we going to get a real quick solution in the next few days? No."