Craig City Council seeks input for deer removal plan |

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Craig City Council seeks input for deer removal plan

Three deer cross Pershing Street in Craig on Monday. A work session with the Colorado Division of Wildlife and the Craig City Council presented Craig residents with three options for removing a large portion of the city’s deer. Some residents implored the city council to take action on the deer problem, while others stood against the action, instead advocating for consideration of other options.

How to comment

Write to the Craig City Council:

• Residents can submit letters to the Craig City Council on how they would like the council to address deer removal in the city by dropping them off at Craig City Hall, 300 W. Fourth St., or by e-mailing city manager Jim Ferree at jferree@ci.craig….

A Tuesday work session with the Craig City Council and Colorado Division of Wildlife didn't turn out the way Craig resident Shannan Koucherik expected.

Koucherik said she was hoping for more of a dialogue between interested residents and the two organizations during the meeting on how to manage deer within city limits.

However, a day later, Koucherik said she is still trying to understand the meeting.

"We felt kind of blindsided when the DOW spoke and said, 'This is what we are going to do — it is this or nothing,'" she said.

The DOW presented three options Tuesday for helping curb the number of deer in the city.

Those options include establishing a hunting area and season outside city limits, trapping and killing deer, and/or having a team of marksmen come into the city to kill deer at night.

The DOW said they would prefer to employ all three options in Craig.

Koucherik said she understands some residents' concerns about the safety of seniors and children, but she believes there are other ways to solve the issue.

"I felt like it was all decided before the meeting, and I felt as though the options that they said … are killing, killing and killing," she said. "My husband and I both, I guess, are sadly resigned to the fact that the powers that be have spoken."

Koucherik said she is also concerned the manner in which the deer could be removed would be "not totally humane."

"I am sitting here looking out my living room (window) at my woods thinking, 'we are going to lose the deer that have become our friends over the last eight years,'" she said.

The meeting was also attended by residents who commended the city council for their actions and implored them to move forward with deer removal.

One such resident was Lorrie Butler, who said she would be "very happy" if the DOW removed a large portion of the city's deer.

Butler said "something needs to be done" considering the "aggressive" nature of the deer.

"They don't back down from me," she said. "I can go out in my back yard swinging the broom and they do not back down. They'll stand there (and) look at me like, 'You crazy lady, I'm going to get you.'"

The deer, Butler said, have prevented her from having a garden in her fenced backyard for three years. She said a deer attacked her poodle, which resulted in a "very large vet bill."

Butler said she has lived in Craig since 1978, but didn't start seeing deer inside city limits behave aggressively until about five years ago.

Craig City Council member Gene Bilodeau said he was glad to see the number of interested residents who attended the work session.

"Regardless of what people may think of (the) DOW, at least in my mind, they are the experts," Bilodeau said. "What they presented as options, in my mind, are what our options are."

Bilodeau said the council should take action to curb the deer problem, considering the potential safety risks to residents.

"To me, it has always just been, 'That's where I live,' and 'That is what happens,' and so I have just coped with it, if you will," he said of living with the deer in Craig. "But, being on the city council, I guess the biggest issue that is a concern for me is (safety)."

Bilodeau said the city council is hoping residents will submit their thoughts about a possible city deer removal plan.

The council would then take resident comments into consideration before making a ruling on the DOW's recommendations, which could come as soon as the next council meeting Nov. 9, he said.

Craig City Manager Jim Ferree said the city is also working to draft an ordinance to increase the punishment for feeding deer in city limits, something the DOW said could help reduce the number of deer coming into town.

Ferree said the ordinance could include an increase in fines.

"The point is the $68 is not enough of a deterrent," he said of the current fine.

City council member Ray Beck said he was pleased with the feedback the council received Tuesday.

"We are going to get mixed emotions about it, but I think doing nothing isn't the right answer," he said. "I think it behooves the city council to move forward."

Beck said he considers residents' safety to be the biggest factor when addressing the deer situation.

"It is time we step up and take the DOW's recommendations because I think this could lead to a more serious problem," he said. "We don't want to be in a position where someone gets hurt, even though we all like the deer."