City of Woodland Park and wildlife officials discussing options for controlling deer population

WOODLAND PARK, Colo. — City Council is coordinating with Colorado Parks and Wildlife to see what can be done to decrease the growing number of auto collisions with deer and other wildlife.

More and more wildlife are moving into residential neighborhoods across Colorado, according to officials.

Deer, bear and mountain lion conflicts are on the rise in Teller County.

In Woodland Park, officials say the resident herd is growing, in many cases drawn into town by people illegally feeding them. As a result, deer are attracting more mountain lions to community, resulting in loss of pets and posing a safety threat as lions become increasingly bold, according to officials.

Woodland Park police have reported 92 deer-related phone calls in the past 12 months, according to officials. Nearly two-third of those calls were auto-deer collisions.

Additionally, officials say the number of calls reporting mountain lion sightings have increased. So far this year, authorities have responded to 9 calls this year, compared to just a couple incidents in 2015 and one in 2016, CPW officials say.

This has resulted in CPW trapping and euthanizing one lion deemed dangerous, and trapping a lion kitten that was taken to a rehabilitation facility.

Frank McGee, area wildlife manager in Colorado Springs, says he and his staff have presented different options for Woodland Park City Council to consider.

“We’re committed to helping communities find solutions that work for them,” sMcGee said. “What works for Woodland Park may not be the best solution for Colorado Springs, Manitou Springs or another community.”

Other cities nationwide have experimented with fences, repellents, fertility control, trapping and relocation, and sterilization among non-lethal methods to control the urban deer population. Costs vary from $300 per deer for fertility treatments to $3,000 per deer for trapping and relocation, according to officials.

Officials say the use of strictly controlled urban hunts on large tracts is more effective. Some communities employ archers or professional hunters to work at night, while other communities allow controlled, public hunting. In some cases, hunters are required to use tree stands to ensure they are shooting down into the ground to guard against stray shots.

Statistics show the impact of urban hunting on deer densities. Since 1988, deer have been hunted on the Air Force Academy after the number of cars colliding with the resident deer population climbed to 175 in 1986 and tallied in triple digits for nearly 10 consecutive years, according to officials. In the last 10 years, however, the Academy has averaged about 18 auto-deer collisions per year, ranging from 32 in 2007, and 8 in 2013.

In January 2017, CPW staff counted 191 deer at the Air Force Academy – that’s about 7 deer per square mile. A month later in Woodland Park, CPW staff counted 248 deer in 7 square miles, or about 40 deer per square mile.

McGee said that was an “extremely high” density rate, adding it’s unhealthy for deer to live in high densities because it leads to a higher risk of disease transmission.

“Our goal is to protect human health and safety and manage wildlife populations,” he said. “We’re committed to saving lives and protecting people, but we’re not going to dictate any outcome.”

 

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