Urban deer: ‘Don’t feed; give them space’

Urban deer are prompting a public campaign to provide Carson City residents with heightened awareness about how to cope with them.

The latest effort is dissemination of a brochure through local schools, sending them home this week to reach the families of 5,000 pupils in kindergarten and first through fifth grades. The brochure’s advice, which counsels among other things that no one feed mule deer, was put together by University of Nevada Cooperative Extension and city government in an adaptation from Wild Aware Utah.

Doug Martin, chairman of the Carson City Wildlife Advisory Board, summed up a significant part of the brochure’s message. He said deer pose various problems unless people have heightened awareness.

“They’re here to stay,” said Martin. “Don’t feed them, treat them with respect and remember that they come with parasites, appetites and predators.” Predators following deer populations can include coyotes or mountain lions. He mentioned as well that there is a significant problem beyond avoiding the feeding of urban deer.

“They are a potential accident looking for a place to happen,” he said.

Martin also said people need to understand even though it is an urban deer population, these are wild animals. He expressed concern about children who don’t understand that, and out of curiosity or for some other reason get near a buck in mating season, which is called rut, or between a doe and her fawn.

The brochure discusses mule deer feeding habits in different seasons, counsels residents to “just say no!” rather than feed the deer because it can harm them for various reasons, gives advice on what to plant or avoid planting so deer don’t decimate your yard, and urges people to give deer plenty of space. It reminds readers that feeding deer or letting your dog chase them are both violations of law.

The brochure says people should plant daffodils rather than crocus, iris or peonies rather than tulips, lavender rather than hardy geraniums, spirea rather than hybrid roses, and ornamental pear trees rather than apple trees.

“Slow down while driving through deer habitats,” the brochure advises, “especially at dawn and dusk, and during the spring and winter months when deer are migrating.”

Sheriff Ken Furlong joined Martin in voicing concern regarding how people cope with the deer population, particularly focusing on the potential for and actuality of accidents.

“We go out on deer regularly,” said the sheriff. “The deer are heavy in this town.”

Furlong said he intends to have a meeting next week regarding handling of deer accidents, noting some are injured but get away and remain among the local deer population, while others die or are put down. He said his concern about how deer are handled after accidents, among other things, deals with costs for putting them down and disposal. He said he is seeking refinements regarding how the accident problem gets handled going forward.

Furlong said putting up some signs where deer congregate may help some, but the seven that went up awhile back downtown and on the west side don’t totally do the trick because there are deer all in the capital city.

“They are literally everywhere,” he said.


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