Officials may legalize bow and arrow hunting in town
~ by Bob Volpe ~
The Woodland Park Chamber of Commerce hosted a town hall-style meeting at the Ute Pass Cultural Center for the community to see a presentation and ask questions of the state Parks and Wildlife officials regarding the local deer invasion, and whether it’s time to turn residential sections of town into legal hunting zones.
Parks and Wildlife Officer Tim Kroenig outlined several possible methods to control deer populations, their costs, and which steps are the most effective.
Kroenig has been conducting surveys in the city to determine approximate deer populations, the locations of deer in the city, and possible solutions to the problem.
Fertility control he says is expensive and ineffective. He said, “It costs a lot of time, money, and effort, so it is really not an option.” Cost per deer to do this is estimated from $400 – $600.
Sterilization is even more costly and is ineffective for basically the same reasons as fertility control. Cost or this option is from $800 – $1000 per deer.
Then there is the trap and relocate option. This, explained Kroenig, is just unrealistic for the city. The problem of Chronic Wasting Disease would only spread the illness to herds currently not affected.
Chronic Wasting Disease can only be diagnosed in deer that have already died from the disease.
Parks and Wildlife would not allow this option to be undertaken and the cost would be from $400 – $3,000 per deer even if it could be done.
Another possibility is trap and euthanize. This is also unrealistic, according to wildlife experts. This option does not rate well with the public and is inhuman, according to wildlife officials. It is also expensive and time consuming, according to Kroenig. Estimated cost per deer, $300 – $500.
Realistic choices limited
So what are some acceptable options?
According to Kroenig there are two feasible options.
One is hiring sharp shooters to cull the deer. This does come with a hefty price tag. Estimates are from $600 -$1000 per deer. A possible lower cost way of doing this would be to have local police handle the culling.
Option two would be regulated hunting. This option would cost little to nothing for the city, and appeared to gain much support from the audience attending the forum.
After Kroenig’s presentation, the floor was open for questions. The event drew over 100 people, many of whom were there to promote a regulated hunt in the city.
Questions covered such issues as: Is there really a deer problem? Or, is it a human problem (feeding deer and moving into their habitat)? On the other side of the spectrum, some wanted to get out their bow and arrows and start snuffing out every deer they saw.
Most questions fell between the two extremes and represented genuine concerns, ranging from: predators following the deer; deer eating landscaping; cars hitting deer on the roads: and chronic wasting disease that is decimating deer in some areas of the state.
As the questions developed, two camps emerged. One side preferred a form of birth control to hold down populations and the other side was in favor of a regulated bow hunt in city limits and on National Forest land adjoining the city.
Terri Collins, head of Woodland Park-based Catamount Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, is a strong proponent of controlling the population by using birth control. She cited a new birth control drug
that is considerably cheaper than the methods Kronig presented.
According to Collins, this drug only costs $34 per dose. This cost does not include labor to administer the drug.
Kronig’s supervisor Frank McGee responded to Collins’ suggestion, stating the drug she is talking about has only been tested on White Tail deer, not Mule deer, the predominant type in Woodland Park.
Woodland Park Councilwoman Carrol Harvey was in attendance and addressed the audience toward the end of the event. In the past, Harvey has spoken in favor of having a regulated huntig system to limit the deer population.
She asked for a show of hands of those who would like to see the city create a program for a regulated bow hunting solution. This received a yes from a large portion of the
Harvey also assured the audience that the city takes this issue seriously, and will soon begin to tackle the issue with legislative action in some form.