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Austin rewrites deer overpopulation policy
published Friday, June 28, 2013
BY JAMES BARRAGAN - AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF
The city of Austin will revamp the way it deals with overpopulation of deer after two formerly opposed neighborhood groups joined together to give recommendations on the issue.
The City Council on Thursday approved the recommended changes, which mostly center around launching educational programs to teach residents how to coexist with deer.
“Education is everything because the deer aren’t going to go away,” said Cecelia Burke, who serves on the wildlife commission of the Northwest Austin Civic Association.
The policy encourages residents to plant deer-resistant vegetation and use appropriate fencing to keep the animals out. It also calls for more street signs to warn drivers about deer, as well as speed monitoring. Also, city crews will now pick up dead deer on private property. A wildlife ecologist from the Humane Society helped craft the policy.
In 2009, the City Council approved a “no-feed” ordinance for the deer. Feeding deer near homes makes them accustomed to being around humans. The ordinance carries a $75 to $125 fee for violations.
A 2010 report by a consultant firm found that there were about 400 deer in an area of Northwest Hills that was only suitable for 100.
Since then, city officials and residents have searched for ways to improve what they call a human-deer cohabitation issue.
The city’s Animal Advisory Commission brought together two groups, the Northwest Austin Civic Association and Deer Austin, which had been at odds about how to manage the deer population, particularly over the use of lethal action. Some members of the civic association favored lethal action and Deer Austin opposed it.
They agreed on non-lethal techniques for managing the deer population.