In a unanimous decision, the Elizabeth Board of Trustees voted to continue the town’s Deer Management Program for another season.
Initiated in the fall of 2014, the program that allows limited hunting of deer within designated areas inside the Elizabeth town limits, under tightly controlled parameters, was created in response to the increasing domestic deer population in and around the town.
According to town administrator Dick Eason, there were two factors contributing to the trustee’s view of a successful program.
“It was the fact that we’ve got two years under our belt, and there has not been a single incident. That was one of our primary concerns going into the first year is, number one, safety,” he said. “The other thing is while the numbers, thus far, are not keeping up with the population growth, we are making progress.”
One of the goals of the program is to keep a manageable deer population in the hope that it will reduce the number of negative interactions between the animals and people, such as car accidents.
Finding an accurate number of collisions between vehicles and wildlife has been problematic, and Eason attributes the difficulty to two factors. A majority of minor collisions go unreported, and no metric for measuring reported deer-versus-auto collisions exists. A collision with a deer involving one car is likely to be coded as a single-vehicle accident.
“Even with the incidents that have been reported, there’s not a good way to pull that data out of the record management systems,” Eason said. “What we found to be a more reliable source for that kind of information, it’s also anecdotal, is the local body shop.”
The anecdotal estimate Eason obtained during his initial study of the program in 2014 suggested that the number of vehicle accidents involving deer was as high as two per week, but that number could not be assigned to a specific area.
Hunters in the program claimed nine deer in 2014, and last year’s count was 14.
In addition to controlling the deer population, the program also distributes a majority of the meat to individuals and families in need of assistance in the area.
This year a nonprofit organization was created to help with costs.
The deer management program was originally set up to run without any taxpayer funding, and for the first two years the volunteer hunters paid for all the costs including state hunting licenses, gas to have the meat processed and required equipment.
“The program requires participating hunters to have dedicated arrows that are marked in a certain way, so if a deer is running around town with an arrow sticking out of it, we can clearly identify whether that came from within our program and specifically who within our program,” Eason said.
Additionally, the creation of a nonprofit entity also creates a vehicle for potential corporate donors to support the program while receiving a tax deduction.
Bow hunters interested in participating may learn more about the program at an informal meeting from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on June 18 at the Rattlesnake Fire Station at 46220 Coal Creek Drive, Parker. Applications must be received by July 1. Additional information may be found on the Town of Elizabeth’s website, townofelizabeth.org.