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Urban hunting; other options discussed in County Commissioner me - KOAA.com | Continuous News | Colorado Springs and Pueblo

Urban hunting; other options discussed in County Commissioner meeting

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EL PASO COUNTY -

The El Paso County Board of Commissioners heard from wildlife managers Thursday morning about the population of deer in El Paso County and Colorado Springs.

City and county leaders are working to decide if they will develop a way to reduce the number of deer in the area. Communities across the state have been faced with this issue and there are several options that have been utilized to cut down on the numbers.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife area manager Frank McGee said after the meeting that they are presenting all of the current options of deer population control, but that urban hunting has proven to be the most successful and cost effective option in other communities statewide.

"We know we can reduce deer populations by urban hunting. That is how we do it in the rest of the state," McGee said.

There are several other options that wildlife managers are proposing.

Those include:

  • Culling-- Hiring people to hunt the deer. This can be a private company or community agency such as the police.
  • Birth Control-- The deer are shot with darts containing drugs to prevent pregnancy. The majority of the doe population need to be treated in order to prevent more births.
  • Surgical Sterilization-- A doe is tranquilized and taken to have surgery and then released.
  • Trapping and Moving-- The deer are trapped and moved out of the urban area. This can expose healthy deer in the wild to those that are diseased from the urban area.
  • Trapping and Killing-- The meat from the deer is then distributed to shelters or food banks.

The dangers of having too many deer in a urban area include having more car crashes involving the animals, aggressive behavior as the animals compete for food and the addition of predators into the community.

"Hunting is the primary tool that we use to manage populations at a statewide level. That's how we manage wildlife populations. Whether it is my preferred option or not doesn't really matter. It's not my decision it's the community's decision. We're asking the community what they want to do," McGee said.

It is too early in the process to speculate what any kind of urban hunting plan would look like in either the city or the county. Parks and Wildlife said they would require a permit, but the city and county can add more restrictions, including archery only requirements or closing areas off on days when hunting would be allowed.

"Hunting is generally a very safe sport. We have half a million people a year who hunt in Colorado and the number of accidents is very low," McGee said, calling it the third safest recreational activity a person can engage in.

Next week, the department will conduct a ground count to get an update on how many deer are believed to be in city limits. At last count, there were roughly 20 deer per square mile in Colorado Springs. In the mountains, there are about two to three deer per square mile.

The challenges for communities with a high deer population include not having enough food for the animals and the spread of diseases. Wildlife officials said they will have another meeting with leaders in January and stress that both agencies will consider all of the options before making any decisions about future action. 

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