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Wildlife experts give deer control options to El Paso County commissioners

Urban archery hunting among possibilities

El Paso County commissioners learn options for deer control

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - El Paso County commissioners said they will give further consideration to a plan for reducing the area's growing deer population.

During their regular meeting Thursday, commissioners received a presentation from Colorado Parks and Wildlife presenting a variety of options to address the matter.

An urban archery hunting program, in which licensed hunters use bows and arrows within or around a municipality, has apparently become the preferred option for citizens and CPW, although the agency said it isn't recommending one option over another.

"I don't know about urban hunting," Commissioner Peggy Littleton said.

Commissioner Stan VanderWerf said he's keeping an open mind.

"I want to see what an urban hunting program looks like, how it works and make sure it's safe for our constituents," he said.

Commissioners gave no timetable for voting on the matter.

CPW said Colorado towns like Alamosa, Buena Vista and Salida have successfully conducted urban hunts, and the practice is common across the country.

In such programs, the meat is kept by hunters or donated to soup kitchens and food pantries.

CPW said other options, such as birth control drugs, relocation and hiring professionals to reduce deer herds, are more expensive and less reliable.

"Urban hunting has been proven to be the cheapest and most effective solution," Frank McGee, area wildlife manager for CPW, said.  "But we're just providing the options.  The commissioners have to make the decision. We'll help them in whatever they decide."

The Colorado Springs City Council is also considering an urban hunt as a solution to its deer overpopulation; CPW plans to make a similar presentation to the council next month.

Next week, CPW will conduct a deer count to determine how many of the animals should be removed to bring the population down to a manageable level.

"We have more deer per square mile here than there are in the mountains, in their natural habitat," McGee said.  "People feed them, so they lose their fear of humans.  People plant things that deer like to eat.  They can carry and transmit diseases to humans.  They can damage property, and cause injury or death in vehicle crashes."

McGee said elsewhere in Colorado, deer populations are declining.

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