Urban deer causing issues in Eau Claire

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- Wildlife in an urban area has Eau Claire residents saying 'Oh, deer.'

An increase in urban deer has some Eau Claire residents asking the city for help.

In response, the Eau Claire City Council is creating an urban deer management plan.

Since early this year, research has been collected about the population and Wednesday, night the results will be presented at a public input meeting.

City Council member Kathy Mitchell says complaints have been flooding in from homeowners over the past three years.

“We learned from citizens that the deer herd has become a burden and a menace in this community,” said Mitchell. “I would say it's a city wide problem, city wide.”

Mitchell says deer are destroying gardens and landscapes but more than just being a nuisance, retired DNR biologist John Dunn says the problem is dangerous.

“There's times that you can drive along Clairemont Avenue and see four deer that were hit overnight,” said Dunn.

To address the issue Dunn says the city has him creating an urban deer management plan.

As a first step, Dunn says a deer count was done. He says the results show over 300 deer within city limits.

“This is up about 75% from a survey that was done in 1993. So, pretty substantial increase in the number of deer in 1993 and 2015,” Dunn explained. “We have, in areas of the city, two to three times the number of deer that you’d expect to see out in the rural landscape.”

Along with the count, Dunn says he conducted surveys for the management plan.

“I've also been interviewing hunters that had permits to harvest deer in the city limits last fall to get their impression on the season and what their thoughts were. So, those two steps have been completed,” said Dunn.

Now, Dunn says the next step is to present the data and gather public input.

Dunn said, “I have a general outline on what I think should be in this urban deer management plan but I'd be very interested in hearing in what the public is interested in and ultimately it will be up to the city council to make a decision on what steps might be taken to try to manage deer in the city.”

Mitchell says possible solutions to be discussed will include educational options, like teaching the public to not feed deer, as well as discussing hunting possibilities to cull the deer herd.

The Waterways and Parks Commission will host a 7pm meeting Wednesday night at Eau Claire city hall in the council chambers.

Dun says after the public input meeting he’ll began writing the actual management plan.

Dunn says he’ll work on it over the course of the summer, finish a rough draft by July, and then host another public input meeting with the final plan to go to the city council in August.



 
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