Communities concerned about urban deer

A herd of deer in De Pere, Tuesday, April 8, 2014. (WLUK/Eric Peterson)
A herd of deer in De Pere, Tuesday, April 8, 2014. (WLUK/Eric Peterson)

DE PERE - More and more deer are leaving the woods and moving into urban areas, and that trend has some communities concerned. That includes De Pere which has called a public meeting Tuesday night. City leaders want input on whether there are too many deer.

Under the shadow of a De Pere water tower, a herd of urban deer feeds in the park called The Preserve.

De Pere resident Jim Vanden Boogard likes the deer.

“They don't cause a lot of problems; they're in and out. They feed at the neighbors, they feed at my house, they feed on the apple trees. They're pretty pleasant, they're fun to watch,” said Vanden Boogard.

But Max Smits says he's concerned about safety.

“I would just hate to see deer get hit on the road,” said Smits.

John Cordry says the number of deer on his land in De Pere has doubled in the last ten years.

“When you have too many deer in a small area, you are going to have issues, and right now, we have issues,” said Cordry.

So is it a problem? Last year in De Pere, residents came back with mixed reaction as part of a survey. That prompted community leaders to continue their research. In February, a helicopter counted 119 deer within city limits.

Leaders from area parks departments also met with deer biologists at the Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary.

“There's no magic formula that says this is a problem, or it isn't. It's balancing that human and wildlife needs,” said Ben Nelson, Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary assistant director.

Park leaders say before they go forward, they need to go back to the community. A listening session is designed to get the latest input from the public.

“We have to try to determine is there a problem, before we go to that next step,” said De Pere Parks, Recreation and Forestry Director Marty Kosobucki.

Marty Kosobucki says options include, doing nothing, sharpshooters, and a controlled hunt in specific park locations.

“It's a very sensitive topic; it's a very sensitive decision. So the park board is doing everything they can to get every piece of information before making a determination,” said Kosobucki.

Tuesday night’s meeting is set for 6:30 at the De Pere Community Center.

De Pere isn't alone. Other communities are also dealing with urban deer.

Ashwaubenon Public Works and Protection Committee is meeting Tuesday night to schedule a public listen session.

Allouez officials say the village has plans to schedule a community meeting this spring.