A small committee of residents has been organized to discuss and recommend a path of action for the Craig City Council to take regarding the management of the city’s deer population.
City manager Jim Ferree said committee members have been chosen and a meeting date has been set for later this week.
The members of the committee are residents Dave Watson, Dean Gent, Shannan Koucherik and Tim Ciesco, Ferree said.
Craig City Council member Jennifer Riley will serve as chairwoman of the deer committee, which was formed at the suggestion of Craig Mayor Don Jones at the Nov. 9 city council meeting.
Jones called for the creation of the committee after council members mulled how they should proceed with three deer removal recommendations made by the Colorado Division of Wildlife.
“We have done this for the last four years, and so it’s time to make a decision,” Jones said. “So that is why I wanted two of each side and to see if there was … one other thing we missed and if not, go with the first two options (from) the Division of Wildlife.
“I could get totally shot down, I don’t have a clue until we meet.”
The first two DOW options include an archery hunting area and season outside of city limits, and allowing the DOW to trap and kill problem deer in conflict areas with property owner consent on a case-by-case basis.
“The idea of establishing a citizen committee hadn’t come up until that meeting, and so I don’t know if city council had given it that much thought,” Riley said. “But, I don’t think that anybody was opposed to the creation of the committee, and depending on what the recommendations are back to council, (those) will help council make some decisions to go forward.”
Riley said she hopes this week’s meeting will “formulate the questions that we need to have answered.”
“Nobody has disagreed with the fact that the sick deer and the injured deer need to be dealt with, that’s a no-brainer in my opinion,” she said. “But, beyond that, what does that mean? What do we do? And what does city council’s role look like in that and what does DOW’s role look like in that and what kind of public support are we going to get?”
Jones agreed, adding that he feels the city needs to “thin the population.”
Moreover, Jones said the committee might foster an idea not previously considered by the council.
“I’m not sure what in the heck it might be, but you know, it is always good to take one last review,” he said.
Riley said the committee will also seek clarification on several items from the DOW, including information on case-by-case trapping of deer.
“It has been a pretty overwhelming statement from the public that they do not want all deer exterminated in the city limits,” she said. “So, is the DOW willing to work on a case-by-case basis, and if so, how would that be organized?
“And if not, what are our options? Those are the really basic questions we need to get answered.”
Gent said he wants to see the deer situation taken care of in a “reasonable manner.”
“I think probably what we are going to have to do is take the problem deer first, and I think they should be trapped and transferred to another part of the county and left to their own devices,” he said.
Gent said he understands there is a problem with deer in town.
“People are having problems with them, so I think we ought to address it,” he said. “I have had some problems here in my back yard, but I finally got enough fence around it. I’ve got them out now.”
Koucherik said she feels the DOW “needs to interact more with the residents of the city.”
She also said injured, sick or aggressive deer need to be dealt with on an individual basis. She said she would advocate for the committee to plot where the aggressive deer encounters have been reported on a map.
She said she was also against a “blanket killing” of 75 percent of the deer herd “without regard to gender.”
“I would like there to be some thoughtful culling of the herd,” she said. “But, killing 75 percent of the herd is not game management.”
Riley was hopeful the sides would reach a consensus and the committee would be able to make a recommendation to the council.
Jones said he hopes to have such a recommendation by early December.
Jones, however, made it clear he was open to the suggestions fostered by the committee.
“Nothing is set in stone, yet,” he said.