Craig City Council pauses on deer issue |

Craig City Council pauses on deer issue

Brian Smith

Craig City Council member Terry Carwile thinks this is a "wait and see" time for the council concerning the city's deer population.

After receiving a letter written by the Colorado Division of Wildlife in response to Craig Mayor Don Jones, Carwile thinks it would be wise for the council to pause its activities concerning management of the city's deer population to see if the organization would follow through with the message of the letter.

The response letter, sent to Jones in early December, stated the DOW "remains willing" to respond to the sick, injured and aggressive deer in the city.

"Our officers are trained to take quick, effective action to protect public health and safety," DOW Northwest Regional Manager Ron Velarde wrote in the letter. "This has been part of our wildlife officers' core responsibilities for many years and will continue to be in the future."

Carwile said the city council needs to "encourage the public, really those who are having a problem, to step forward, call and let's just see how the division performs."

Jones agreed with Carwile, adding there would likely not be a hunting season or mass trapping, relocating or killing of the deer.

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He hopes a newly passed ordinance prohibiting the feeding of deer and other big game in city limits and increased awareness of the DOW's ability to deal with aggressive deer on a case-by-case basis will help curb issues.

"That's the best way to do it," he said. "They're the keepers of the wild animals."

Jones acknowledged some criticism has been placed on the DOW for response times. He remains unsure if continuing to work with the DOW will help reduce that response time.

"Until we start getting calls … who knows?" he said.

Jones said he was pleased, however, that the DOW offered to host educational meetings and other outreach strategies to understand deer conflicts and hopefully prevent them.

"Anytime we can get education, (that's) perfect," he said. "I know that the division has volunteered to help us do that. They have done that through some brochures they have already given us."

However, Jones was unsure if free educational classes, like those previously hosted, would attract residents.

"Four years ago when we did this, we gave four or five classes on what to plant, what not to plant, what kind of sprays are out there, and I think the most they had in one class was 10 people," he said.

When asked if residents might be more prompted to attend such educational meetings considering the recent public debate about the deer, the mayor remained skeptical.

"No — that is just my gut feeling," he said.

But, Jones said "it is worth another try."

The council, Jones said, was hoping the DOW would agree to transplant a large number of deer from the city to another location. However, the DOW stated it would not be "humane or cost-effective."

"We (were) hoping they would back down from their statement and they didn't," Jones said. "(They said), 'We will not transplant any animals. We will kill them.'"

Jones was hoping the amount of public outcry about the issue would sway the DOW on relocating the animals.

"(Relocation) is not in their policy and we were hoping that would change with the letters, because I know they got as many letters as we did and they read the paper and stuff and they didn't budge off their policy," he said. "So, they are the biologists, they are the people that have the know-how, not city council. So, we've got to look to them to know what we are talking about.

"If you agree or disagree, they are still the experts."

Jones said he doesn't foresee any more action from the council about the matter, other than maybe the educational sessions.

"If people start calling saying, 'Look, I called the DOW and it took them two days to get here and when they got here they didn't do anything,' then we need to go back and (ask) what happened or why?" he said. "I guess we need to test their policy."

Where to call

Where to call about aggressive, sick or injured deer:

• The Colorado Division of Wildlife encourages Craig residents who encounter sick, injured or aggressive deer to call the Colorado State Patrol dispatch center at 824-6501. An on-call DOW officer will be dispatched to respond as soon as possible.