Posted 2/14/18 (Wed)
By Neal A. Shipman
What should the Watford City City Council do about the small bands of deer that are moving about in Watford City? Should they try to attempt to tranquilize them with darts and relocate them far outside the city limits? Should they consider having a special bow hunting season to reduce their numbers? Should they try to enact a new city ordinance that prohibits residents from feeding the deer? Or should the council just decide that the deer are best off left alone?
The discussion about the city’s deer population, and what to do about it, started a while back when a number of residents started complaining to the city about all of the damage that was being done to people’s flower beds, gardens and shrubs. From there, the council decided that they wanted to get as many thoughts on the issue as they could, so they held a public hearing on Monday, Feb. 5.
What that hearing brought out can best be condensed into a couple of thoughts.
First, the city does indeed have a deer population that considers Watford City to be their home. Whether that residency is on an occasional basis or a permanent basis is pretty hard to determine. (Heck, we have a hard time determining how many people consider Watford City home. Deer pose an even more challenging problem.) But regardless, there are deer freely moving about the community.
Second, by their very diet, the deer are going to find the most tantalizing food to eat. In the country, that means they eat shrubs and tree twigs, grass and whatever else they can browse on. But when they dine in the city, their options get a lot tastier. In the summer they can find fruit trees, gardens, flower beds and other blooming plants a very tasty alternative to their otherwise bland diet. And in the winter, they tend to seek out those favorite haunts.
And that is where the rub comes in from the city residents who don’t want the deer to be destroying their flowers and shrubs or raiding their gardens and fruit trees. They want the deer gone.
Third, there are people who think that the deer that wander up and down neighborhoods are a welcome addition to the community. They love the aspect that on any given day, they can see deer freely moving about the city.
The city council is going to have a very difficult time bringing those two opposing views together.
But here is what we do know for sure. Having a special bow hunting season is not a good alternative. Nor is attempting to tranquilize and relocate the deer. The reasons for not pursuing either of these alternatives is obvious. No one wants to run the risk of having arrows missing their target and striking something not intended. And no one wants to have missed darts containing chemicals being found by pets or children.
The best and easiest solution to deal with the deer is to just leave them alone.
Deer are deer. They feed where the food is plentiful. For those that don’t want to lose their gardens and flowers to the deer, they could consider fencing their lawns to keep the deer away as some have done.
It’s a pretty simple solution. On the one hand, from my perspective, I hate to see deer munching on my shrubs. But on the other hand, I love to see the deer, especially when they have fawns, standing outside my front window.