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More study needed for deer plans

Commission asks state for hunt, fresh proposals
By: Nathan Donato-Weinstein | nathand@goldcountrymedia.com
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Placer’s Fish and Game Commission on Wednesday moved forward with efforts to cull the area’s deer population but held off on recommending a controversial youth doe hunt, officials said. Instead, members asked the state’s Department of Fish and Game to come up with a detailed proposal for dealing with the herd, which could include the hunt that’s angered some animal rights activists. “They’ll put all the options out there and have their proposal that will be considered in more detail at the August meeting of Placer County Fish and Game,” said Placer Agricultural Commissioner Christine Turner. “They could choose any combination that makes sense.” Some officials are concerned about a rising number vehicle crashes involving deer. County statistics show a ten-fold increase in the last year — from nine in 2006 to 92 in 2009. The accidents can cause serious injury or death, and are expensive for drivers. Regulations currently allow for 25 deer to be taken in the special hunt. Craig Stowers, a senior wildlife biologist for the California Department of Fish and Game, said officials are moving cautiously with plans, and that more information is needed before a hunt is put forth. Even if commission members approve, it will still have to go to the county’s Board of Supervisors for approval. “This whole thing is in the building stage right now,” Stowers said Thursday. “There are lots of things that need to be firmed up.” They include identifying the hunt’s exact geographic range and potential safety hazards that may impact the ability to hunt. “After that, we’ll decide if a hunt is appropriate and what the appropriate method of take is. One of the options might be not to have the hunt,” he said. Possibilities for the hunt could include opening it up to licensed youth or adult hunters, he said. Both of those options have angered some locals, who remain concerned about residents’ safety and animal welfare. Loomis resident Jim Cather wrote in a letter to the editor this week that he questioned whether a deer hunt was necessary. “Where’s the proof that putting kids in the ‘kill’ mode will stop auto-deer collisions?” he wrote. Stowers said local officials can take other measures to reduce the risk. That includes reducing speed limits, putting up more warning signs, and clearing vegetation from the shoulders to improve visibility — for both drivers and deer. “Even with those actions being implemented, if there is an issue with the population, you’re still going to have accidents,” Stowers said.