To the editor:
We have been following closely the discussion in these pages and in public meetings regarding the status of deer in Craig, and I want to make sure a few facts are explained.
The Colorado Division of Wildlife has been involved in discussions about urban deer problems in Craig since 2008, when the Craig City Council established a committee to look at the issue.
In response to that work and to citizen complaints, the DOW came up with a multi-faceted list of things that can be done.
Our recommendations include: increased public education about the issue and the causes; urging city officials to pass a strong anti-feeding ordinance; encouraging residents to use landscaping items that discourage deer; making sure that local building codes and homeowners association rules don’t prevent construction of fencing that excludes deer if people chose to build it; and methods for culling the existing deer from the community.
This is a difficult issue and there isn’t an easy or a right answer. Some people like to have the deer roaming through town. Other people don’t feel safe or worry about pets, children or the elderly.
In the end, the citizens of Craig must decide what the acceptable number of deer in town is. As wildlife managers, we can help the community reach that number.
The use of limited hunting seasons, sharpshooters and trapping are the most effective options to reduce the existing population if the community determines through its elected officials that there are too many deer.
We have heard and understand the concerns about the use of professional sharpshooters. While it is a safe, successful and effective method that is used in many communities in the upper Midwest and on the East Coast to address deer overpopulations, we are only prepared to engage in methods that are agreed to by the citizens of Craig through their elected officials.
What we have said is that it is inhumane to relocate these deer. Studies show that a majority of relocated deer will die soon after relocation.
Whether they starve to death or are killed by vehicles trying to return to the place they were captured, moving the problem is not a humane or acceptable approach.
Moving problem deer to die or become someone else’s problem isn’t a good idea. Our policy is to trap and humanely euthanize the deer, and put the meat to use in the community.
The DOW is willing to help when the residents of Craig and the city council decide if Craig has reached or exceeded the appropriate number of deer in town.
Regardless of the decision the council makes, the DOW will continue to respond to complaints about public safety.
This issue is emotional and tough. In the end, no effort will be successful unless the community and the DOW can come together on an acceptable approach.
Ron D. Velarde
DOW Regional Manager