Craig City Council, DOW to address local deer population |

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Craig City Council, DOW to address local deer population

Groups to discuss management, removal options of urban deer

If you go

What: Craig City Council work session with Colorado Division of Wildlife about deer population in city limits

When: 5:30 p.m. today

Where: Craig City Hall, 300. W. Fourth St.

— The work session is open to the public.

The Craig City Council will host a meeting tonight with the Colorado Division of Wildlife to address what Mayor Don Jones said is a growing concern for many Craig residents.

The two groups will meet at 5:30 p.m. at Craig City Hall during a public work session to discuss several deer population management and removal options. They will also seek feedback and concerns from residents.

Jones said he was prompted to organize the meeting after receiving feedback from several residents that the deer population in Craig had become "aggressive."

Jones said he heard reports that deer have attacked dogs in the area, leaving some residents "afraid to go out of their house."

"That is just not right — you shouldn't have to live in fear of your own backyard," the mayor said.

DOW spokesman Randy Hampton said the organization is happy to meet with the city council and residents to discuss options for dealing with the population of deer inside city limits.

"As a state agency, we believe that local management is often the best approach, so what we wanted to do was work with the Craig City Council and work with the City of Craig," he said. "So, we're encouraged that we are finally getting this meeting put together and we can work on some of those options moving forward."

Hampton said the DOW understands that addressing Craig's deer population may be "controversial" for some.

"This is an issue where there is not a solution that will make everyone happy," he said. "But, as a state agency that's responsible for management of deer populations, we don't necessarily need to make everyone happy. What we need to do is our job and that job is to work with the City of Craig and to address the human safety issues that need to be addressed."

Any action by the DOW would be done in a "wise and thoughtful manner," and with the direction of the city council. Hampton said.

"We are here to help as the Division of Wildlife, but we are not here to act unilaterally and that has really been the challenge," he said. "We have kind of been waiting for Craig to give us what options might work best."

Some of the options available to the city to deal with the deer include relocation of the deer, fertility control, establishing hunting seasons around the city, and killing the city's deer, Hampton said.

However, he said the options of establishing a hunting season or killing the animals are the most effective ways of addressing the situation.

Hampton said there are several reasons why relocation of the deer may not be the most effective answer.

Research has shown, Hampton said, that when deer are relocated, they do not survive most of the time. He said there is an "extremely high" mortality rate after the relocation or deer may attempt to return to the location they were removed from, possibly dying in the process.

"Our preference, knowing that a majority of those animals are going to die in very ugly ways anyways, would be to do what is the best option — (to) put them down quick and avoid the suffering and the expense of attempting relocations," Hampton said.

Fertility control measures, Hampton said, are often expensive and difficult to administer because they require yearly maintenance. Moreover, he said fertility control "does nothing to deal with the current deer."

"It may prevent them from having future young, but you still have a population of deer that exists," he said.

Also, several factors during the implementation of the fertility control measures can be "problematic" for both deer and residents.

As far as establishing a hunting area around the city for the deer, Hampton said the DOW would have to work closely with the city if the measure was considered an option.

"Obviously we'd need to do that in a safe and appropriate manner and we will explain some of those things to the council at this work session," he said.

Hampton said the agency has heard from "frustrated" residents that the DOW has not done more about the deer problem.

"Once again, we are a state management agency, but in this particular issue, we are an advisory agency," he said. "Managing is quite easy, but we don't want to act unilaterally. We want to act in concert with the city and the county to make sure what we have got available as management tools fits the area."