Uinta County Herald | Reducing the city’s deer population is a hot topic at council business session

A plan to reduce the number of deer roaming the streets of Evanston was presented to City Council during its business session on Tuesday, November 8. Local residents Josh and Susan Anderson and Peggy Ducharme, along with Wyoming Fish & Game biologist Jeff Short and Warden Heather Sterling, spoke to council over concerns about too many deer within city limits.

Susan Anderson was the first to speak to the council: “We are concerned about the large number of deer in the town. They cause a risk of traffic accidents, pose a hazard to pets, cause property damage, and pose the potential danger of predators seeking them out in the city. We are asking the city to pass an ordinance to control the local deer population.

The council received a copy of the City of Cody’s Deer Management Plan showing that they had approved a Lethal Reduction Program to address the urban deer population. Cody had a procedure in place in cooperation with the Wyoming Fish and Game Department to manage deer numbers. Select members of the Cody Police Department were trained to shoot deer after bait was used to lure them to places where it would be safe to shoot them. After testing the deer for chronic wasting disease (CWD), the proven safe deer would be donated to local residents and/or the food bank.

“Deer killing would be done at night with the use of silencers and the meat donated to the food bank,” Game Warden Sterling said.

Ducharme addressed the council: “I live along the river and love the wildlife, but the deer are jumping my fence and threatening my dog. I have to keep him on a leash when I walk him in my own yard. We must have a plan to control the overpopulation of deer in the city. We could donate the meat to the local food bank, which badly needs it. I hope the community will support this plan.

Wyoming Fish & Game employees provided the council with a document regarding deer feeding that is prohibited by Fish & Game.

Biologist Short said: ‘Actually the deer population in Evanston is quite insignificant, but that changes over time. Feeding the deer by certain people causes problems for everyone involved. We have big problems with people feeding deer and luring them into town. Deer have a complicated digestive system and when they eat things that are not part of their natural diet, it can make them sick and even lead to their death. As far as a control plan is concerned, we are neutral; my job is to manage the deer population as a sustainable resource for hunting and the number of deer in town does not affect my numbers. It’s not a population issue, it’s a social issue and we will support whatever the city decides to do.

Short explained that six cities in Wyoming have a cooperative agreement with Fish & Game similar to Cody’s plan. Human safety is a concern, he said, because there are roads and traffic everywhere. Even if the predators aren’t that close to town, Short explained, they can still be a concern because the increase in prey increases the potential danger. He said they hadn’t seen evidence of CWD in deer around Evanston, but had shown up in Green River and Pinedale and as close as Vernal, Utah.

Sterling said she gets a lot of calls about deer from Evanston residents. Short added that while Fish & Game receives calls about sightings of predators such as mountain lions and bears, they do not publish them but continue to monitor them.

Josh Anderson suggested the council take a census of local residents to see if they would support a plan to reduce deer numbers in the town.

“Several years ago we sent out a flyer with the water bills to survey residents about the possibility of reducing deer numbers in the city,” Mayor Kent Williams said. “The response was overwhelmingly against killing any of the deer. The community did not support a reduction plan.

Local resident Gregg Attarian addressed the council to oppose any plan to kill the deer.

“I think the deer population makes the city better,” Attarian said and admitted he feeds deer near his home. “The speed limit in the city is 20 miles per hour and if people keep to the speed limit there should be no reason why they hit a deer. Deer numbers in town are low, so is there really a problem? Has a child been injured by a deer? Have we done a census of how many deer there are actually in town? If you ban deer in town, are you also going to ban chickens and rabbits, because of potential predators? »

The discussion continued between the members of the council and the public present. The arguments for and against deer feeding in the city and the potential risks of too many deer in the city have continued for some time.

Mayor Williams thanked everyone for their comments and said council would research and investigate the proposal further. A proposed order should be publicly announced and open to further public comment.

The only other item on the business meeting agenda was brought to council by Community Development Manager Rocco O’Neill, which was a maintenance agreement with WYDOT for a black powder coat on the signal of Output 5 and current and future enhancements to the Harrison and Main signal. and the 6e Street Overpass Improvement Project.

“WYDOT will eventually upgrade all poles to black powdercoat and seek written approval from the city,” O’Neill said.

Attorney Boal advised council to move a motion to write a letter with a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the city and WYDOT and put it on the agenda for the next regular meeting for a vote. .

The board gave its consent and the working session was closed.

Jessica C. Bell