Weatherford Democrat

January 31, 2014

Hoof and high tail it?

Hudson Oaks officials to consider ordinances aimed at reducing city’s deer population


Weatherford Democrat

— By BRIAN SMITH

HUDSON OAKS — Residents have been dealing with a deer problem for several months now. City officials say it may be time to do something about it.

Police Chief Brandon Mayberry told the council during a meeting last week that the city has an overpopulation problem with its deer. Based on his numbers of two to three local herds with about 15 to 20 deer in each and a Texas Parks and Wildlife study done in October 2012, the city has an overpopulation problem.

Mayberry said with the city having just 2.6 square miles and about 75 percent of it either being commercially or residentially developed, or in the process thereof, it was only a matter of time before the problem arose.

“You take away their habitat, it’s only natural that you’re going to see them,” Mayberry said.

Residents in the Parker Oaks and Diamond Oaks subdivisions south of the interstate have seen the majority of the animals. Mayberry said there are about eight to 12 homes that have visible feeders that officers are aware of.

Feeding the animals is not doing the animal’s diet any good.

“What people with feeders are doing isn’t healthy for the deer, giving them a diet of straight carbs primarily,” Mayberry said. “It’d be like giving nothing but candy to a child.”

City officials asked for voluntary compliance on not feeding the deer, which simply hasn’t helped, Mayberry said. Many residents say they feed the deer so the grandchildren can enjoy them when they come to visit, despite knowing the dangers feeding the deer and other wild animals poses, such as property damage and potential injuries to animals and humans.

Because the voluntary compliance hasn’t worked, Mayberry said he, City Administrator Patrick Lawler and City Attorney Rob Lawlor will be looking at different ordinances and hope to submit a proposal to council members within the next month or so.

A small group of residents spoke at Thursday night’s meeting saying it was time for something to be done about the problem, Mayberry said. Part of the reason behind the ordinance, Mayberry said, is knowing TP&W is unable to help the city without some sort of ordinance in place. Once the ordinance is in place, Mayberry said city officials will still work with residents to come into compliance before code enforcement starts writing tickets.

“Ninety-nine percent of people want compliance. They want to do what’s right,” Mayberry said.

The ordinance is not an immediate fix, Mayberry said. He admitted it could take four to six years before the herd actually moves on because they have been here for so long.

Getting rid of the deer forcibly by tagging or relocation can be a very expensive proposition, an estimated $350 to $400 per deer. Fencing around the area can cost anywhere from $12,000 to $15,000 per mile and really becomes nothing more than an “eyesore,” Mayberry said.