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Please sign our petition. For those who haven't yet seen it, the text reads: "We, the undersigned, oppose (1) deer killing/harvesting in the City of Austin and (2) the use of City funds for deer killing." As of Saturday, February 19, we have MORE than 500 signatures, with approximately 300 from the 78731 and 78759 ZIP codes. Thank you, all! Keep up the good work!


It's a Sign of the Times PDF Print E-mail
Written by Teresa Ferguson   
deeraustin_yard_sign

DeerAustin, a group of Austin neighbors opposed to lethal deer harvesting, has launched an awareness campaign against a measure devised by the Northwest Austin Civic Association (NWACA) to promote city-funded deer removal. Using tools that include petitions and yard signs, DeerAustin plans to expose NWACA’s selective and secretive ballot measure and at the same time increase awareness about non-lethal methods of deer management.

Since the city-sponsored deer survey was released in November, DeerAustin has had meetings with City Council Members Chris Riley and Randi Shade -- plus we've received supportive feedback/endorsements from other neighborhood organizations in 78731. There will be additional meetings and outreach in January.


Background and timeline:

2008-2009: NWACA successfully lobbied Austin City Council to adopt a no-feed ordinancefor deer, which took effect on February 23, 2009. Almost two years later, many people still are not aware of the ordinance and only a few citations have been issued. 

2009-2010: NWACA successfully lobbied City of Austin staff to initiate and pay for a deer survey of the 78731 ZIP code, conducted by Plateau Land and Wildlife Management. The report was released on October 29, 2010, and presented to Council Members Randi Shade and Laura Morrison at the City’s Public Health and Human Services Committee meeting on November 16, 2010. Watch video of the November 16 Public Health and Human Services Committee meeting.

DeerAustin’s concerns about Plateau’s survey:

  • The report manipulates data to achieve a desired outcome. Plateau’s deer tallies were extrapolated and estimated to be close to 400, leading Plateau to recommend hiring deer sharpshooters to kill 300 deer in the 78731 ZIP code at a cost of approximately $250+/deer or at minimum, $75,000.
  • The cultural impact is misrepresented.NWACA represents only a fraction of the households in only one section of 78731, yet it allowed Plateau Land and Wildlife Management to exaggerate its purview in the survey report (emphasis added): (From p. 21) “The Northwest Austin Civic Association (NWACA) has conducted surveys of resident landownersin the Northwest Hills geographic area to gauge opinions and attitudes regarding white-tailed deer. The survey conducted by NWACA is the only documentation that we are aware of that reflect the values and observations of property owners within the 78731 ZIP code. Results of that survey show that 84% of residents within Northwest Hills have experienced landscape damage, 49% have found dead deer, 34% have experienced tree damage, 8% have had a vehicular accident, 3% have experienced a pet attack and 15% have experienced a personal encounter.”

- NOTE: NWACA reports on its website that there were only 375 responses to its survey, i.e. “84% of residents within Northwest Hills” as mentioned in the above paragraph translates to 84% of 375 responses. That number is nowhere near the total number of “property owners within the 78731 ZIP code” (approximately 26,681 residents).

Within the past two months:In late November, the NWACA board met in a closed meeting to come up with wording for a member ballot about deer reduction. The verbiage includes references to the City of Austin engaging in “a program to reduce deer population,” “humane method,” “for the health, safety and welfare of NWACA residents,” and people are urged to vote YES or NO to show support. NWACA also states on its ballot that only the board will have access to the ballot results. DeerAustin asks -- why not make the vote count an open process? Especially if results will serve as input to a potential City-funded project? The ballot has been mailed to “all members eligible to vote, meaning anyone who has been a member for at least 30 days,” according to NWACA president Richard Anton.

DeerAustin’s concern is that, since lethal deer harvesting is the only recommendation currently proposed, Austin City Council members will interpret a YES vote as a vote for lethal harvesting, whether by sharp-shooting or trap-transport-and-process – methods opposed by DeerAustin neighbors. Another concern is that NWACA’s closed voting process and misinterpreted membership numbers could potentially bias voting results.


Yard signs are now available. Want one? Call 512-963-3191.
Attachments:
FileDescriptionFile size
Download this file (DeerAustin_kids_petition.pdf)DeerAustin petition (for signers under age 18) 42 Kb
Download this file (DeerAustin_petition.pdf)DeerAustin petition 45 Kb
Download this file (deer_austin_flyer.pdf)DeerAustin flyer 333 Kb
 

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