Green River Star -

By Stephanie Thompson
People Editor 

Second deer survey?


Green River residents are once again being asked what their stance is on the deer population.

After hearing from numerous residents at a Green River City Council workshop on the deer population in the city, the Council decided to have residents complete a second survey regarding whether or not they would support thinning the deer population through culling.

This would be the second survey sent out to residents on the same subject. According to Green River Police Chief Chris Steffen, the first survey conducted about two years ago showed the city at a pretty even split between those in favor of culling the herd and those in favor of leaving the deer alone.

Steffen said he wanted to make sure people understood that culling is another word for killing.

“It is a living creature we are talking about so don’t sugar coat it,” Steffen said. “Culling is killing them.”

Steffen said he researched Helena, Mont., which is having a much bigger problem than Green River is and Helena spends $25,000 a year to cull the deer. He said they used live traps, with permission of the property owner to catch the deer, then the deer are killed by shooting the deer in the head with a captive bolt pistol. The procedure is similar to how animals are killed prior to slaughter.

During the meeting, residents brought up numerous problems the community is still facing including how people are still feeding the deer, which has led to property destruction. Steffen said it is important for residents to report illegal behavior, even for something like feeding the deer.

Like residents in the room Tuesday evening, Councilman Gary Killpack also admitted to not reporting his neighbors for feeding the deer because he wanted to be a good neighbor. He quickly realized he had been wrong for allowing that to continue.

“Shame on me,” Killpack said. 

Other issues brought up by residents included how aggressive the deer are becoming, to how sickly they looked. One resident, Melinda Owens, suggested the deer have Chronic Wasting Disease, which  is a disease of the nervous system in deer and elk that results in distinctive brain lesions. Owens said anyone can tell when an animal is sick all one has to do is look at them.

“Banning the feeding isn’t going to get rid of the problem,” Owens said. “I think it’s imperative we thin the herds.”

Owens had several suggestions for the city, one included allowing people to hunt them within city limits with bows at night. She said the meat that was good could then be processed and given to the Green River Food Bank.

Owens said the deer have become domesticated and are no longer scared of dogs, humans or cars. She was concerned about deer versus car accidents in the city.

Barbara Killpack said her granddaughter was attacked by a deer on the way to school. She said the buck deer put its head down toward her granddaughter and started to charge her. She said her granddaughter refuses to walk to school now.

“It’s starting to get dangerous. My concern is for the children,” she said.

Steffen addressed some of the concerns saying the deer in town aren’t healthy because they are not eating foods natural to them. He said they are domesticated because most grew up in town. He said it is important to report all problems with deer to the police department. Steffen said the accident rates between deer and cars has actually decreased. Only 56 deer versus car accidents were reported since 2011.

Patrick Burke, Wyoming Game and Fish employee, addressed the CWD issue saying that five years ago three deer in Green River tested positive for the disease, but there have not been any positive tests since then.

After more than an hour and a half of hearing residents concerns, the Council decided to send out another survey about the deer.


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