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October 26, 2012

Hudson Oaks seeks fix for deer problem

HUDSON OAKS — While there is not a major problem with deer right now, a Texas Parks and Wildlife urban biologist says the city could have one if it doesn’t begin managing the population.

Brett Johnson spoke to about a dozen residents during Thursday night’s regular council meeting. Johnson said that as the city has grown, the deer population has dropped off but has come back, which is common in places with high vegetation like Hudson Oaks. He also said that compared to many cities and homeowners associations he has seen, the city is in good shape.

“To keep it like that, however, you need to develop a form of control for them,” Johnson said. “With growth averaging 20 percent a year, there needs to be some sort of elimination of the same amount.”

Much of the problem has come within the last two years or so, where many people report seeing the deer become more urbanized, which is very common with whitetail deer. Feeding the deer corn to watch them is not a good idea for a number of reasons.

“Corn has a lot of carbohydrates in it which actually helps the reproductive cycle,” Johnson said. “With 95 percent of does becoming pregnant each year, the average having 1.6 fetuses ... having two to three is not uncommon if they have corn or a high carb diet.”

Leaving corn out for deer doesn’t mean they are the only animals eating it.

“Raccoons and skunks also like corn as well as anyone else,” Johnson said. “Skunks are the number one spreader of rabies in Texas. “

A long term plan must be developed to keep the deer problem under control. Many places use a program where deer are trapped, taken to a processor and the meat donated to charitable organizations. Asking residents to voluntarily not feed the deer and see what happens was considered another option.

Mayor Pat Deen said the city is going to take action in some way about the deer.

“It’s more serious than I thought,” Deen said. “We will be bringing this back at a future meeting.”

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