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Reader: Manage the deer properly




I'm puzzled by City Council's proposal to adopt urban hunting to fix a "problem" that's in the process of fixing itself. The city argues there are too many deer. Yet Frank McGee, wildlife manager, acknowledges that the city's deer have not yet reached "biological carrying capacity." Also, state numbers show Colorado's deer population actually has, as the Indy recently reported, collapsed. Colorado's regional director of the Mule Deer Foundation, Marty Holmes, agrees, noting that Colorado deer number 1 million, down from 2.2 million in the 1960s. The state doesn't have too many deer, and if city deer are too plentiful it's due to food sources.

Another rationale for hunting is that chronic wasting disease (CWD) has infected 16 percent of Colorado's deer, maybe 20 to 30 percent near Fort Carson. Colorado Wildlife Commissioner Marie Haskett has called this "a very critical point" for deer survival. Colorado Parks and Wildlife responded with tentative strategies, No. 1 being the hunting of diseased male deer (CWD being more prevalent in males). In short, a plan to cull healthy deer is the wrong strategy. It's shocking that CWD is so widespread in Wyoming that the state anticipates possible deer extinction in 48 years. Destroying healthy deer removes the strong, leaving the weak to spread infection. Such a plan is shortsighted. CWD will do its own culling.

The deer face a daunting challenge. It will worsen without our help, and fewer deer will be the result. Meanwhile, the city will save $115,000 to $250,000 a year in saved culling fees, surely enough to educate the public, repair and add fencing along roadways, and do whatever else helps manage deer properly.

— Deborah Janke

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