~ by Bob Volpe ~
Last Thursday, the first of three task force meetings was held in city council chambers to hammer out a direction to take regarding how to control the ever growing deer population within the Woodland Park limits.
No action was recommended, but the group didn’t hesitate in stressing details of the growing deer problem, which could lead to more vehicle accidents and even a hike in mountain lion sightings.
Of the 18 people who applied for the task force, 12 showed up at last week’s inaugural meeting. Also among the participants were members of city staff: City Attorney Jason Meyers, City Manager Darrin Tangeman, Mayor Neil Levy, Woodland Park Chief of Police Miles DeYoung, and Councilperson Carrol Harvey. Parks and Wildlife District Wildlife Manager Tim Kroenig was also on hand to offer his expertise and answer questions.
The reasons for the task force runs the gamut from those who want to protect the deer through various non-lethal methods; to those who feel culling the herd through a managed hunt is the best solution. The one common thread is that the task force wants to do what is best for the deer.
This first meeting was mostly an orientation. Harvey gave a brief synopsis of the different methods of controlling deer, and talked about the deer surveys that took place in the city.
She outlined the goals, mission, purpose, history, and facts on what is already known about the deer inhabiting the city. The two facts Harvey mentioned are: There is currently no money in the current city
budget to enact any form of control and that public safety is the main objective of the city. If any action were to be taken before the next budget session, money would have to come from the general fund and be approved by city council.
Woodland Park Police Chief DeYoung spoke on the rising number of deer/vehicle accidents, and that they are taking a lot of time for his officers to deal with.
He also mentioned the city passed a “no feeding” ordinance, and that there have been seven reported contacts of people illegally feeding deer.
None of those violators were fined. At the end of the meeting, two subcommittees were formed, each one assigned to hash out a direction to take to solve the deer issue.
The deadline to offer recommendations to city council is September 5,
There will be two more task force meeting before the deadline. These have been set for August 1 and for August 15.