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Model for control

Harvest one solution to controlling deer population in Craig

John Henry

A measure used by Rapid City, S.D., a decade ago to control the deer population reduced herd sizes and went relatively unnoticed by residents, a city official said.

“We’ve seen how effective the program is,” said Lon Van Deusen, Rapid City parks division manager. “We’ve reduced the population of deer to where the public is willing to accept it.”

Craig resident Gail Severson plans to propose to the Craig City Council a way to control the deer population within city limits. Severson, who is scheduled to discuss deer population control with the council at its regular meeting Tuesday evening, has cited Rapid City’s method as a model for council members to consider.

In 1994, the city of more than 80,000 appointed a task force to research possible deer management, Van Deusen said. In 1997, 12 sharpshooters from within the city park department were appointed, and deer harvesting began.

Since then, the Rapid City council approves or declines funds for deer control annually.

Van Deusen said the department harvests between 100 and 300 deer during the months of December and January on average.

He said the city is limited to shooting within city limits, and only in pre-approved locations by the state — those with a safe backdrop, such as against a hill or into an uninhabited ravine.

Harvesting takes place at night, and the sharpshooters use primarily .22 caliber rifles.

Prior to deer control measures being enforced in Rapid City, Van Deusen would receive calls about herds of 30 deer roaming through town. Now, residents call reporting herds half that size.

Craig resident Sue Burns doesn’t think harvesting is the answer for Craig.

“I think that it may be a temporary stop to the problem, but it’s not going to fix the problem,” she said.

Instead, Burns recommends city residents plant flowers that repel deer, rather than draw them in.

She also suggests building a fence.

“People have to be responsible,” Burns said. “If they don’t want deer in their property, they’re going to have to fence it in.”

The Colorado State Univ-ersity Web site, coopext.colostate.edu/wildlife/deer, contains information about nonviolent ways to repel the animals, as well as plants that are deer-resistant.

“People have encroached into the deer’s habitat,” Burns said. “People are going to have to adapt to the deer.”

John Henry can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 209, or jhenry@craigdailypress.com.


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