Sue Burns: Who will shoot the deer? |

Sue Burns: Who will shoot the deer?

I’ve been watching the deer killing debate with some interest.

I am concerned for several reasons, and as a police officer in the city, I have to wonder who is going to do the shooting if the city decides to take this route.

Because of my concerns, I decided to do some research to find out just how dangerous and destructive deer really are.

The result of my research showed the following data:

The U.S. doesn’t break down deaths caused by large mammals but the belief is that the majority of animal-related deaths in that classification are agriculture related and most are caused by horses and cows.

Other deaths are attributed to venomous critters. Spiders, snakes, bees, wasps and other stinging insects cause more deaths on average than all mammals combined.

Overall, the U.S. CDC reports around 1,700 animal related human deaths per year. Its statistics show that while the rate of deaths has increased during the past 20 years, the percentage of mortality has remained about the same.

According to a British Columbia, Canada, Center for Disease Control study, which goes back around 20 years, there have been five deaths attributed to deer, and all of those deaths were caused by motor vehicle crashes with deer involved.

Here’s the BC link:

People who support this proposal cite the factors that deer cause damage to their cars, to their landscape and are aggressive toward other species.

Being out there on the street and responding to car versus deer crashes, it has been my observation that people drive too fast, don’t watch what is going on around them and don’t give themselves time to stop when the wildlife strolls out onto the highway.

Even in the city, people hit deer and elk at what is to me, an astonishing rate — at posted speeds of 25 to 50 miles per hour at various locations in the city limits. This just shouldn’t happen as frequently as it does.

Granted, some critters do run into the sides of moving cars and the driver is not at fault, but the vast majority of car-deer crashes are directly caused by the driver hitting the deer, not the other way around.

Deer do damage landscaping. That’s a fact and the dollar cost is high. However, we plant the stuff in our yards that attracts the deer in the first place. If people think about what they’re planting, there are multiple plant choices out there that are not attractive to deer, and most of those varieties of plants are very compatible with our climate.

If we reduce the type of food in our landscapes that the deer like to eat, it seems logical that they won’t hang around town as much because they’ll be out looking for something they do want to eat.

Are deer aggressive?

Rarely. To my knowledge, we have one complaint of a deer going after another animal. Compared to complaints of dogs going after other animals and people, this is statistically insignificant.

Based on the above, I don’t believe that the solution to the problem is to start shooting deer in the city.

Part of my job is to euthanize deer and elk that are injured in the city limits, usually in car-against-critter crashes.

My major consideration when doing that part of my job is the safety of the public. I have to know that I’m not going to endanger people or property before I pull the trigger on an animal even though it is suffering.

If the herds need to be culled to lower the population, so be it. That is one of the areas Department of Wildlife handles through wildlife management.

But should we start shooting deer in town? I don’t think so. I think we have to work to solve this problem by using our brains, not our guns.

Sue Burns

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