Keeping deer population in check raises concerns

March 1, 2010 6:17:21 PM PST
A neighborhood is fighting back against unwanted visitors. There are too many deer in Walden on Lake Conroe in Montgomery County. Some are getting too aggressive, even chasing people. The subdivision has started trapping the deer. But not everyone wants to see the animals in nets. An indicator of just how sensitive an issue this is, is a claim by the management association of Lake Walden that some residents interfered with the last trapping by overturning feeding stands and, some say, spraying deer repellant on nets. That shows no signs of abating.

It's a law of nature that when you want to find something, you won't -- certainly deer in the daytime in Walden on Lake Conroe. But there's plenty of evidence that deer share the subdivision with homeowners. Ron Herridge is the golf pro and a long-time resident.

He said, "It would be nothing for me to see a dozen deer on my way home in the evening."

It's part of the lifestyle of a community in the woods, but there are growing pains. According to the management association, about 250 deer live on 1,300 usable acres on this peninsula. Problems include car accidents involving the animals, and destruction of landscaping. There's also the health of the herd to consider.

But like Lakeway in Austin, the deer have been trapped in recent years, sent to a processing plant in the Hill Country, where they're killed and made into sausage for an Austin food bank.

The management association's goal is to reduce the herd down to 50 head, which is said to be the state's recommendation as well.

"They would prefer that there is a sustainable healthy herd, and to get to that sustainable healthy herd, we have to cull the herd," explained Nancy Renfro with the Walden Management Association.

But that continues to pit neighbor against neighbor.

Neighbor Patti Burns, who supports removal, said, "I know some people that have had accidents with them. I think they're overpopulated out here. I think there's way too many of them."

"It just tears me up to see it," said Kendra Smith, who passionately opposes removal. "I don't understand. I can't fathom somebody not having that conscience to know that they're advocating this."

Another trapping is scheduled for this month.