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Two Town and Country Deer Management Plans Revealed

Two proposals for the city's 2012 Deer Management Program were explained Monday night. One uses sharpshooting only, the other combines sterilization and sharpshooting.

The Town and Country Board of Aldermen had packed agenda Monday night, but deer management once again topped the talk of the meeting.

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Two proposals for a city Deer Management Program were presented in the work session prior to the board of aldermen meeting and the topic topped the public comment portion of the actual meeting.

As previously reported by Town and Country - Manchester Patch, the city of Town and Country wants a 2012 Deer Management Program. Mayor Jon Dalton said he wants to move quickly on the plan because he wants deer management funding in the 2012 city budget. Dalton previously said there will be a working draft of the bill to be presented to the board of aldermen at the Sept. 12 meeting.

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A draft bill created by City Attorney Steve Garrett based on Captain Gary Hoelzer's recommendations was presented to the aldermen in the work session. Hoelzer was tasked by the city to research and present recommendations on future deer management options for the city. Monday night, he presented the draft bill and cited public safety and deer versus car collisions to support his recommendations.

"I recommend we achieve 30 deer per square mile," Hoelzer said. "Thirty would be a point where we can achieve and reassess the numbers from there."

Currently, Hoelzer said the city has about 60 deer per square mile.

Hoelzer explained to aldermen and the public the primary differences between this 2012 proposal and the ones in the previous two years.

The new proposal contains only lethal methods for reducing and maintaining the deer population and it only uses sharpshooting by White Buffalo Inc. It proposes a two-phase plan covering two years.

Phase one would begin in December of this year and continue through the first part of February, 2012. It would cost $100,000. However, the total cost would be $130,00 for a two-year agreement, where phase two would begin in December, 2012 and go into the beginning of 2013.

Hoelzer is also recommending that the city reduce the area from 10 contiguous acres to 5 contiguous acres for sharpshooting.

"That can be done safely on that area of ground," Hoelzer said.

Alderman Steve Fons requested it also be made mandatory to sharpshoot from a tree stand only so the bullets are being shot downward as a safety precaution.

Another draft version with changes to the first three pages of Garrett's version, was presented by Alderman Al Gerber, who chairs the city's Conservation Commission. Gerber's version of the proposal includes sterilization as a method of deer control. Both drafts are included in this article.

"I've been struggling for the last few weeks, because it's been difficult to explain why sterilization as a deer management method can be a cost effective plan," Gerber said. He also cited public safety and deer versus car collisions to support his recommendations.

Gerber said he feel 40 deer per square mile is a satisfactory number.

"Why is it that it looks so much cheaper to kill deer than to sterilize deer?" Gerber asked. "You're comparing apples to oranges. You're comparing live deer, the ones you sterilize, compared to a dead deer. Yeah, sure it's cheaper to have a dead deer."

Gerber said if the city sterilized deer, it would cost $1,100 per deer for the first year.

"Then after that, there is no more cost because that doe is no longer having fawns. It's costing $400 every year because it's producing a fawn that has to be killed. Lifetime cost is the highest for the deer that's never been sterilized at all because it keeps producing that fawn that has to be killed." Gerber said.

Gerber also cited previous city deer management programs which included sterilization that he said were successful.

"More than half of the citizens surveyed in Town and Country wanted non-lethal methods included in the deer management plan," Gerber said.

Gerber proposes the city sterilize 50 deer this fall, then use sharpshooting to reduce the herd by 100 deer, but he wants the sharpshooting done after the sterilization. He said, next year, the city would then sterilize 15 deer and sharpshoot another 100. According to Gerber, after 2012, 15 deer would need to be sterilized each year and no more sharpshooting would be required. 

Residents also addressed the board in support of non-lethal methods being included in the city's Deer Management Program and reminded board members and the mayor that when residents were asked what they wanted in a survey, the majority of residents wanted non-lethal methods of deer management. Residents also said that aldermen were not representing their constituents by implementing a deer management plan without non-lethal methods included in it.

Gerber tells Patch he hopes to see a change in the city's deer management draft bill by the next board of aldermen meeting on Sept. 26. He said he plans to propose and amendment to the draft bill if it is not revised.

The first reading of the bill is expected at the Sept. 26 board of aldermen meeting and it could possibly be voted on and adopted by Oct 10.

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