Second-grader Logan Montgomery said there’s a simple reason he and his fellow classmates have taken steps to tackle Craig’s deer problem.
“Because we’re smart cookies,” he said.
On Thursday, 15 students in Cheryl Arnett’s Sunset Elementary School classroom sat cross-legged on the floor and discussed “The Deer Are Here to Stay” — a student-produced brochure that offers practical solutions to manage the local deer population.
The brochure offers tips on fencing and how to limit food supplies to a herd that is estimated to have 200 to 400 deer.
Second-grader Cristiann Reyes said Arnett introduced the subject to students in November 2010 after a series of deer-related articles appeared in the Craig Daily Press.
“She told all of us that we’ve been having a problem with deer,” Cristiann said of Arnett. “She said maybe we could help people in Craig and the whole world to understand.”
The students began researching the topic.
They invited Craig Mayor Don Jones and a representative from the Colorado Division of Wildlife to speak on the issue.
The students also researched on the Internet.
After the students gathered information on urban deer populations, it was time to distribute their findings.
Second-grader Joelle Kenney said the students weren’t immediately sure how to get the word out.
“The first idea was that we would have a paper stand and we would hand out fliers,” Kenney said. “And, the second (idea) was that we would tell a friend, who would tell another friend, who would tell another friend.”
The students also considered printing their findings on yard signs, much like the signs seen during election campaigns.
Second-grader Seth White said the Internet was one solution, so the students posted information about the deer to their blog, www.secondgradejoy.posterous.com.
However, the blog didn’t have the reach the students had hoped for, White said.
“Nobody really knew about our blog except for us,” he said.
Eventually, the class settled on a brochure.
Using a Microsoft Word template, the second-graders compiled their information into text and laid-out the information along with color photos of deer taken by twins Cristiann and Alexei Reyes.
Second-grader Krece Papierski said he and his classmates began distribution.
“When we made the brochures, we folded them, and we handed them out to everyone in the school,” Papierski said.
White said the class also has plans to reach a wider audience in Craig.
“We’re going to give them to some companies so they can hand them out,” White said of the brochures. “Like Murdoch’s, Walmart and stuff like that.”
Second-grader Ofelia Quezada said a similar brochure is already available from the DOW. However, the agency’s version has some drawbacks.
“No offense, but people don’t grab it that much because it has…hard words to read,” Quezada said of the DOW publication. “Ours is easy to read.”
The students said their research findings indicate many ideas for deer mitigation expressed within the community are impractical.
Second-grader Jack Doane said removing deer doesn’t work. The DOW has already tried it.
“They tranquilized (a deer), brought it out of town, and put an ear tag on it so they could (track it),” Doane said of the DOW. “They took it five miles outside of town, and the next day they found it right in the middle of the street.”
Papierski said destroying the deer isn’t an option, either.
“The DOW said they won’t do that because they don’t want to kill them,” Papierski said.
The students contend the best option for Craig residents is to limit food sources.
A lack of food may cause deer to leave, and will also limit the number of newborns. The students learned from the DOW that an abundance of food can cause a population explosion.
Some does in Craig are giving birth to twins and triplets, the students said.
Cristiann said gardening choices can contribute to population numbers. She offered a simple solution.
“In the summertime, don’t put out flowers that they like to eat,” Cristiann said. “You should put out things they don’t like to eat.”
The brochure lists several varieties of trees, shrubs and flowers that deer avoid.
Cristiann said fence configurations will also limit the herd’s access to edibles.
“If they can see through a fence, they’ll jump over it. But, if they can’t, they won’t,” she said. “So, you can put hedges around (fences).”
Doane said the brochure came together easily, despite the number of students working on the same project. He cited a collaborative spirit in the classroom.
“You use all your minds together to make this whole one brochure,” Doane said. “You stuff everything that’s in your mind about the deer into a 6-inch-tall paper.”
When asked why students were able to come up with such a definitive, practical solution while some grownups are at odds over the issue, Doane and White offered their opinions.
“The reason the kids are doing something a little more than the grownups with the deer problem is because — no offense — but the older you get, the more you forget about things,” Doane said.
“We’re still learning, and (adults) are in jobs,” White said.
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