San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

September 14th, 2009
Second hearing slated on deer management

STAFF REPORT

A second public hearing will be held by the City of San Marcos Animal Shelter Advisory Board to obtain comments for or against a proposed ordinance banning the feeding of deer and adopting deer management practices within San Marcos city limits.

The hearing is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday at the San Marcos Activity Center, Room 1, 501 East Hopkins Street.

For more information on the hearing, call the San Marcos Animal Shelter at (512)805-2650.

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0 thoughts on “Second hearing slated on deer management

  1. The presence of wildlife in the community is refreshing to me. Deer are particularly elegant and delightful creatures. What are the negative aspects? Have we experienced outbreaks of disease or a significant increase in traffic hazards? Certainly not everyone who feeds the creatures do it with the intent of killing them. Their presence is naturally increased during drought and will lessen with the rains. What does living in harmony with nature mean if the only answers are to starve them or kill them?

  2. Is this the result of that one lady who put up a stink that lives in willow ridge? This whole thing is disturbing the city feels it needs to investigate or have meetings about deer. Thank you Rick for your comments. i believe your comments sum it up completely. We shall wait and see who wants to argue about this as we wait for more comments

  3. In the 5 years I’ve lived in my house we have had 3 deer die in our yard and neighbors have had similar numbers. They eat decorative plants. They’re a roadway hazard. I think there would be plenty of deer to admire even if no one were feeding them.

  4. We’ve had one die of apparent natural causes (no visible injuries anyway), one poached and thrown out of a truck in the middle of the street and one hit by one of the lunatic drivers racing through the neighborhood overnight.

    I’m not sure a ban on feeding them would have prevented any of those three deaths and I’m certainly not interested in laws to benefit the idiots in the second two cases.

    If Phil is correct and there would be plenty of deer without anyone feeding them, then what would we hope to accomplish with the ban? I think folks living in Willow Creek or Spring Lake Hills and the like are dreaming, if they are envisioning a nice quiet place in the country, with no deer.

    The deer will likely eat decorative plants, whether they are fed by humans or not. In fact, I’ve noticed the opposite. First they eat deer food, then they eat decorative plants, then they eat “deer resistant” plants. When everything else is gone, I’ve even seen them eat Agave, which, if you have seen one stripped down, is about as undesirable a meal as there is.

    I’m not sure that I see how this is enforceable, either way. Who is going to do the enforcement? If we have city employees with idle time on their hands, I’d like to see them put to better use. If we have money in the budget for new employees to enforce new regulations, I can think of better uses for that money too, like enforcing the water restrictions. I still see people watering regularly on Saturdays and I still see people power-washing their driveways and otherwise wasting water.

    Why not invest in more green space where the deer populations are? Perhaps some *large* parks? Maybe less development of the land they’re already on would help. It might also help with water conservation and give San Marcos something more attractive than *another* regulation.

  5. According to the TPWD, the “home range” for deer in this area is 1 square mile (640 acres). TPWD also facilitates the creation of cooperatives for multiple landowners who want to establish joint deer management programs.

    Perhaps we could work with neighboring communities, and/or offer incentives to landowners, to get some real deer management in place. I’d like to see something a little more creative, a little more interesting and a little more likely to succeed, than another regulation. I’d live to see a 1,000 acre park or two.

  6. Thank you Phil for your input. Amen to Ted! If someone needs me to look up online the “hazards” of animals living in EVERY city or town then ok I will. Kill the crows kill the sparrows, the doves, the moose, the deer, the crickets. Seriously could we have a peta rep please stand up. Ok I will make that call as well to let them know San Marocs is haveing a meeting on whether we should starve the deer or not. Geez….. For those that do not like the deer please move to Alaska where you can bitch there.

  7. Not hand feeding the wild animals is not akin to starving them. It is unfortunate when people domesticate wild animals, dull their instincts to forage and hunt, and think they are doing the animals a favor. When you quit feeding the deer, they will move on and learn to find food in the wild. The city can’t buy the entire town and turn it into a deer park, and I think people are here to stay.

  8. Based on conversations with habitat management experts, I believe a ban on deer feeding in the city limits of San Marcos is very appropriate. The Texas Parks and Wildlife site (for example) says, “Deer do not migrate, but remain in an area around one square kilometer in size (about 7 square city blocks) year round.”

    It further states, “White-tailed deer can be seen in many urban areas where deer overpopulation is a problem. Many homeowners feed the deer because they enjoy watching these browsers from their windows. The problem with feeding deer is that they can become a nuisance. Once they get comfortable eating the corn provided for them, they have less fear of humans and will eat landscape plants and garden vegetables. Deer love to eat the tender new growth of plants, often eating roses, and other favorite landscape plants. Feeding deer also leads to more fawns being born, and while that may sound desirable, it can lead to an overpopulation which usually means starvation for many animals. This is an issue many urban areas are dealing with today.”

    On our walks in the neighborhood, we see herds of deer (up to 12 to 15 deer in each herd) throughout the walk. These are not healthy looking deer, they do go throughout the yards eating seemingly anything we and our neighbors have planted, they are a danger when driving on the street, and feeding them only perpetuates the problem and issues.

  9. The Barton Creek Greenbelt is 800 acres. A greenspace is not a deer park any more than a ban on hand-feeding is akin to starving the deer.

    Honestly, practice what you preach and don’t twist words around to your benefit.

  10. Thank you for you participation Steve. Deer along with dogs are a hazard to our streets. Cars are naturally a threat to any species of animals.
    If you do feed the deer then they will not eat your precious plants.
    There has been a drought in Texas as well.
    Also does anyone know if bo hunting is legal around here? Peta was interested in knowing this.

  11. The Purgatory Creek Greenbelt is 460 acres and the Spring Lake Preserve is about 250 acres. Both are in are in areas where there appears to be more land which could potentially be added. Both are in areas where deer management is an issue. Both are in areas where development is expected.

  12. Do we have nothing better to concern ourselves with???

    How about the dropout rate at the local high school?

    How about sky high teen pregnancy rates?

    How about low paying jobs or no jobs at all for so many of our citizens?

    How about illiteracy in our adult population?

    How about health care for those of us that cannot afford health insurance?

    How about the shockingly low number of local folks that exercise their civic duty to vote?

    How about the vast amount of government waste pursuing issues that are insignificant to the majority of the population?

    Ask the average single-parent of a child in our school district if they are concerned about deer ordinances….

    Just because we CAN legislate an issue does not mean we SHOULD.

    Join me in suggesting that we step back and ask ourselves: “what is really important?”

    End of rant…

  13. I did attend the last meeting of the Animal Shelter Advisory Board,….which addressed the deer feeding issue, (as well as the pet identification chipping issue).

    The citizen attendees that spoke were about three to one in favor of a deer feeding ban. I did not speak, and attended only to hear the arguments, both pro and con, on the matter.

    I do live near the Texas State Campus, in an area of heavy deer population, and they roam my front and back yard each and every night. While the deer are nice to look at, and certainly have an appeal, especially when amazed out-of-town guests come to visit,….they do indeed help themselves to a veritable salad bar buffet from every yard in the neighborhood. I’m OK with that now, largely because there is nothing left for them to consume,…on my property.

    At the meeting, a representative from Texas Parks and Wildlife spoke, and stated that now that there IS a “deer problem” in San Marcos, we will never be rid of it, and it will require perpetual management. The only real effective solution, according to him,…was to send “death squads” through the neighborhoods, with bows and/or crossbows, and exterminate them. Trapping and relocating was also discussed, but his view was that the expense per animal for that course of action, was prohibitive.

    As I implied above,…I do not have a definite opinion just yet, toward one side or the other, but I would encourage the citizens that do feel strongly either way on this potentially divisive issue, to attend the upcoming meeting, and have your input be acknowledged.

  14. I guess i’m the only biologist to comment: Feeding the deer hurts the deer population in the long run. You don’t have to be into Malthus or Erlich to get it, just research what happened to the deer population in Central Texas in the 40s into the 50s: it exploded as predators disappeared, stock tanks were dug, habitat expanded and hunting dipped. That was followed by stunted deer, famine, and localized die-offs. Until deer management was instituted (e.g., hunting does), the population was unstable. Of course, the proximate issue for me is that i’m sick of deer running into my car (or vice versa) at 6AM when I’m driving to work.

  15. I haven’t said that feeding the deer doesn’t hurt the population. I only question whether a ban on feeding is enforceable and whether it will make any appreciable difference.

    If deer confine themselves to a “home range” of 1 square mile and people come in and develop land that has deer on it, landscaping their properties with plants the deer find tasty, the presence or absence of a bag of corn down the street does not seem likely to have much to do with the devoured rose bush.

    As we develop more and more of the land, we will see more and more of the deer grazing in neighborhoods. Setting aside greenspaces in areas with deer populations, seems like a wise idea; one that is recommended by TPWD and one that provides numerous other benefits to the city. We already have two greenspaces in good locations for this sort of deer management initiative. Why not take this opportunity to expand them?

  16. As to enforcabiliity – I can’t imagine calling the cops on my neighbors for feeding the deer but an ordinance may have the effect of keeping the honest people honest and sending the message to those that feed that there is some consensus that this is not a good idea. And as for the city purchasing more parkland and habitat for deer – there might be about 400 things more critical on the city’s CIP at this time. With Purgatory, Schulle, Spring Lake etc, my opinion is we have a good amount of greenspace. Let’s fix LBJ, add sidewalks on Aquarena, etc, etc, etc…

  17. Again, the idea is not to purchase land for the deer. There are numberous benefits to the city of expanded greenspace, this is just one more of those benefits.

    I believe that more greenspace is pretty high on the list for a lot of citizens in San Marcos.

  18. Um Phil there is no consensus on this issue thank you very much though. Feeding the deer corn or what have you keeps them away from your plants, lets get that point crystal clear. I do not want to hear anyone oppose that or use that as an excuse for deere being pests to them. Get over that issue. We will always have deer in central Texas. I am sure newstreamz will keep us informed on what deer ordinances the city council may try to pass. Lord knows there are more important issues out there. Really people what have the deer done to you. for the guy who stated that a deer runs in front of him every morning at six a.m. there are these things called a deer whistle you can purchase at auto zone. Sure it may cost you five bucks. Or you could slow down or the city could put a sign on the street that states deer may cross here. As we continue to grow then we run the deer to differnt locations. As someone else stated before removing corn isn’t going to keep deer from eating your plants. For the lady who is gonna gripe about her pooch being ” attacked” by a deer in her three fourth of a fenced in yard that lives near Willoe Creek, did you know there are coyotes out there too? They could eat him!!
    You cannot direct deer like you can children on a field trip. I would like to see the council take on this “serious” issue. Also if someone brings up bow hunting to control this at the meetings and council even thinks about considering it. We will for sure no doubt have Peta heavily involed! Though I do hear gunshots close out of yet close to city limits where people shoot the deer in their back yards! Imagine that!

  19. My neighbors ring a dinner triangle for the deer and feed them tortillas. Not kidding.

    The solution, however imperfect, is culling. It is not that there are deer in the neighborhoods. I’m o.k. with that. It is that there are too many deer (in many parts of the Hill Country), and people feeding the deer increases the numbers of deer, and makes them less afraid of people. I’ve seen bucks snort at and start to charge people and pets when they are in rut.

    And I am definitely in favor of more greenspace…

  20. My yard is so full of deer poop I can’t walk to my car without stepping in it. The air is rank with the foul smell of deer. A few deer are cute but heards of them moving through your back yard at 2am is a bit disconcerting. I really don’t care if the city passes an ordinance or not but I wish people wouldn’t feed the deer. It’s like feeding the seagulls on the beach. Nasty. There’s a reason I don’t live in a barnyard.

  21. Deer do poop yes. Dogs do too. Feeding the seagulls on the beach is fun! I raise to question ALL that rank smell becaue of the poop cause see I have many deer around me as well and in the yard and I do not have this rank smell. Hmm another intersting twist though on the whole deer are “pesky little creatures”. Again try running into a coyote or a bear oh my! A moose even could be scary!

  22. I wish the only thing I had to worry about moving through my yard at 2 AM was deer, but that is another story. Perhaps the drunks can thin out the herds. I know they are more skilled at running into large, stationary objects, but…

  23. Feeding the deer does not keep them from eating landscaping. It just lessens deer mortality and exacerbates the problem. Not to mention that deer corn, if that is what is being fed, is of little nutritional value to deer. I’d be shocked if any of you all can point to a study or biologist that says feeding deer is a good idea. Same for any wild animal – like grizzly bears, porpoises, alligators, pigeons, seagulls, etc. The consensus is that it is a bad idea, as evidenced by the cities who have banned deer feeding. They are a hazard to transportation, to people and pets when in the rut, they poop everywhere, and they eat even deer resistant landscape.

    Whether the law is enforceable is not a big deal. People are going to do what they want to do. But as Phil H said “the effect of keeping the honest people honest and sending the message to those that feed that there is some consensus that this is not a good idea.” It also may have the effect of getting people to understand WHY it is a bad idea, because some people just don’t get it.

    I’m not naming any names, but someone had a DEER living in their HOUSE as a pet!!!!!!!!!! That’s wrong!!!

  24. Feeding deer artifically inflates the carrying capacity of the land and artifically inflates the deer population beyond naturally sustainable numbers. If someone who is feeding deer on a reuglar basis decides to move or stop feeding for any particular reason, then it puts undue pressure on other parts of the eco system. Feeding deer in a residential area just for viewing is completely irresponsible and unfair for the deer.

  25. Don’t feed the birds people! They poop on your cars! this would cause undue pressure on the eco system. Get rid of your bird feeders and your water features too! Yall are funny causing this big of a stink over deer. I never even considered them a threat. As i stated before this probably came from a frightened little lady who was running a stink on crigslist how a deer almost got her little pooch, and messed with her plants. She even admitted to not having a full fence. I can guarantee this is where is is coming from and for that reason only. There is no big deer isssue in San Marcos, Texas. Let the people who shoot them outside city limits take them out, cause they do. Shots are fired a number of times during hunting season right outside of the new Willow Creek. I am gonna go out and buy some deer food. If this goes into an ordinance then I will feed the bunnies!

  26. Interesting thread thus far. I was hoping to read more after the second meeting but instead it seems to have dropped out of sight. No followup tidbit from Newstreamz and no more comments.
    Anyone know what happened?

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