I was 5 or 6 when I saw Bambi for the first time and cried little boy tears at the injustice of his mother’s death.
The days are long gone of me crying about a deer’s death, although Bambi was living in the forest and not destroying gardens in towns.
I find absolutely no redeeming qualities about town deer—whether we are talking about the Valley or out in northern Carbon County.
The first house I purchased was in Saratoga. The backyard had a 10 foot fence so I was protected from the Saratoga deer appetites for flora I planted. My front yard was a different story. I learned the hard way, deer have voracious appetites on way too many decorative plants. Most attractive flowers, shrubs and trees equal a tasty meal to these critters.
The excitement to landscape my first home soon became an economic issue as these animals ravaged my front yard. My parents cultivated me to understand lawns since I was a wee tyke—only sons are slave labor when it comes to outdoor work—but I had never been prepared for these eating, pooping machines.
In time I discovered deer eat hollyhocks, tulips, gladiolas, roses, boxwoods, marigolds (they pull them up anyway), fruit trees and some supposedly deer resistant foliage too.
When I would complain about my destroyed terrain I would hear from deer supporters the deer were here first.
While living in Saratoga I learned to concentrate my gardening efforts on the backyard.
I enjoyed residing in Saratoga, but when I bought the townhouse, I didn’t realize how much stuff I had. When I left Washington D.C. a decade before, I put all my possessions in storage. While lived in Asia and Australia, if I bought something, I would send it to my storage unit in Virginia.
Once moved in, I could hardly get around the town home myself, much less have visitors comfortably.
I mentioned to Cliff Jones, a resident of Hanna, who was working with me in Saratoga, about my lack of space. He told me to consider looking at houses in his town, because there were some large ones that were a good value at the time. I took his advice and within a month, I found a great house with an amazing patio overlooking a backyard with terraced railroad tie gardens.
If I thought I had trouble with deer in Saratoga, I soon discovered the beasts in Hanna were fearless of humans and would actually walk up a flight of 12 cement stairs to munch on flowers on my enclosed patio. Can I repeat, enclosed patio.
I begrudgingly regarded the deer as being there first until I found out this was not the case; at least this is what I was told. Maybe the miners and townspeople decimated the population for food, but as I understand it from old timers in Hanna, deer didn’t appear again until a terrible snow storm in the 1970s when they sought shelter.
The deer have no intention of leaving town because some people feed them. I don’t mean the gardens. This is really bad for digestive systems of these animals, plus the deer start to expect all humans to give handouts. I was blown away when I threw some sticks at a couple deer grazing in my backyard only to have them come forward to see if it was food.
In Hanna, there is an ordinance against feeding the deer. In Saratoga, there is not. Remember this; I will come back to it.
Female deer tend to have twins and triplets in a town setting. Sadly, a few of these extra fawns die—okay, well maybe it is not sad, but when they die in your yard, Wyoming Game and Fish (WGF) has to be called to remove the carcass. I know this for a fact, since I had to do this twice.
Herds that live in town inbreed, but truthfully, although some look mangy, the genetic stock is strong enough for inbreediing not to be a big factor. No two headed deer on the horizon.
I just scared myself.
The most worrying aspect of having these creatures in town is how I have seen monster bucks roaming around not afraid of humans. Can anyone guarantee someday a child isn’t going to be hurt by going up to a fearless buck and accidentally startling it?
Sitting in on an airport board meeting for Saratoga, I heard how the deer were a problem hanging out near the runway. There is a deer fence and it just has to be repaired (probably already is by the time of this column), but damn if those four legged creatures didn’t jump at the opportunity to invade.
Sure, I have vested reasons for wanting the deer gone when it concerns my gardens, but it really does not make sense to allow these animals to breed in town when both the Valley and Northern Carbon County have mountain lions living nearby. More than once over the years, I have I seen the Hanna town hall announcement board telling of mountain lion sightings in town. Mountain lions hunt deer, which would probably be the reason they come into town. My guess, no deer in town, there would be no mountain lions.
A definite myth is WGF regulations allow deer to be in a town no matter how people feel.
A town is not stuck with these animals if the community wants them out.
Talking to Will Shultz, of Wyoming Game and Fish, I discovered there are communities in Wyoming that have taken the steps to be rid of deer.
A town in Wyoming with no deer?
To get rid of the deer, first a town has to pass a no feeding ordinance. Told you I would get back to that.
Great! Hanna has already done this.
Next the town votes to apply for a Chapter 56 permit under Regulations Governing Lethal Taking of Wildlife which means the deer will be removed by WGF.
The deal breaker is two part.
The deer must be taken out lethally if you missed that in the title of the regulation. Yeah, they have to die. Also, the town must pay for this operation.
In this time of budget cuts, I don’t see a lot of support to spend money to take out the abundant herds of either town.
The upside of a deer’s death is that after being tested for disease, the meat is donated to a food bank.
I bet the meat would be tasty after all the flowers they have eaten.
Although I see no real positives about deer being allowed to live in town, I am pretty sure they are not going to be ejected whether we are talking about north Carbon County or the Valley.
Bambi may have brought tears to my eyes as a kid, but the only tears coming to my eyes now are of anger and frustration when the critters come up to my ENCLOSED patio to dine at Mike’s floral restaurant.
Bon Appetit, my furry cervine beasties.