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Craig to establish deer committee

Also at the meeting

At its regular meeting Tuesday, the Craig City Council:

• Approved, 7-0, Oct. 26 meeting minutes.

• Approved, 7-0, October bills totaling $739,273.65.

• Approved, 7-0, renewal of the 3.2-percent beer retail liquor license for Safeway Store No. 635 at 1295 W. Victory Way. No cause was shown for denial.

• Approved, 7-0, renewal of the retail liquor store license for Elk Liquor Store, Inc., at 1111 W. Victory Way. No cause was shown for denial.

• Approved, 7-0, renewal of the retail liquor store license for Dark Horse Liquor at 1520 W. Victory Way. No cause was shown for denial.

• Approved, 7-0, a special events liquor license for the Boys & Girls Club of Craig at 1324 E. Victory Way for Cowboy Christmas on Dec. 4.

• Approved, 7-0, a special events liquor license for the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4265 for the Tri-State Christmas dinner Dec. 18 at the Moffat County Fairgrounds Pavilion at 750 E. Fourth St.

• Approved, 7-0, ordinance No. 1009 to adopt the 2011 budget and set appropriations for the revenues and expenditures and making and fixing the amount of property tax levies for the city. First reading.

• Introduced ordinance No. 1010 amending Chapter 6.40 of the Craig municipal code on the care and treatment of animals to prohibit the feeding of deer and other big game animals.

• Approved, 7-0, ordinance No. 1011 waiving the municipal court clerk performance bond pursuant to Colorado Revised Statutes 13-10-109 (4). First reading.

• Approved, 7-0, to enter into executive session to discuss the Craig Police Department’s lease of the Moffat County Public Safety Center and to conference with city attorney Kenny Wohl.

• Heard an October report from the Craig Police Department.

A line formed out of the Craig City Council chambers Tuesday night with residents eager to hear how the council and Mayor Don Jones would move forward with a plan to remove deer inside city limits.

After about 45 minutes of discussion, the city council agreed more discussion was needed before moving forward with one or more of the options presented by the Colorado Division of Wildlife for dealing with deer in the city.

Although no vote was taken, the council reached general agreement that both the 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 were worth additional consideration.

The council also expressed disinterest with pursuing an option to allow marksmen into the city at night to kill portions of the deer.

The council decided to set up a small committee of city council members and four Craig residents to address the problem.

Jones said he wanted two residents from each side of the deer debate to sit on the committee.

Although the council discussed the matter at length, the shoulder-to-shoulder audience was, for the most part, not given time to address the council.

A few residents interjected during the council's discussion of the issue, however.

The mayor explained his decision to limit public feedback during the meeting.

"I don't know anything else you can tell us that we haven't already heard," Jones said to the audience. "I guess I don't want to sit up here and have an argument (of), 'Leave the deer alone, no we need to do something with the deer' back and forth. That doesn't (do us) any good."

Jones said there are many residents who want something done about Craig's deer.

"I believe … we need to thin the deer out," he said. "We have got too many. There are some aggressive ones, there's some very sick ones … and we need to keep the herd healthy. That's what needs to be done, not exterminate the whole herd."

Council member Byron Willems said the reason the council should address the deer situation is due to residents' safety. He said many of the deer have "lost their fear of people."

"What makes this unique and what makes this a problem is that we have generations of domestic deer in town," he said. "They … have an unlimited food supply, they have no natural predators in town and they no longer have that flight sense that Mother Nature gave them when they come into contact with humans."

Council member Gene Bilodeau said the only options presented by the DOW he liked were the archery hunting season and area outside city limits, and trapping the deer on a "case by case" basis.

Moreover, Bilodeau said there is a "bigger problem with barking dogs than deer" in the city.

"I do think the intent of working with (the DOW) is in the city's best interest," he said. "I think the way that we would do that is part of what is on the agenda tonight to beef up our ordinance … (to have) a hefty enough fine for people that choose to break the law by feeding wildlife."

Council member Joe Herod said he thinks the DOW needs to "step up" and take care of the problem or give the city more direction on the issue.

"We are trying to run a city," he said. "We are trying to do infrastructure and roads and stuff and all of a sudden now we've got to figure out how to kill some deer. It's their (the DOW's) deer."

Council member Jennifer Riley agreed there are sick and crippled deer that need to be euthanized and the city does have aggressive deer, but she took issue with some of the DOW's options.

"I didn't like the options that were presented to us," she said. "At least options two and three — trapping the deer and then taking them out and euthanizing them and certainly not bringing in people (to shoot them) to the tune of, I think $18,000 is what they said that our tax payers would have to pay for."