Youth deer hunt drama continues

Meeting is tonight in Auburn
By: Nathan Donato-Weinstein, Gold Country News Service
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The hunt is on. A week after a state official said a controversial “special” Granite Bay-area deer hunt was off the table, details are emerging of another proposal — this time to expand existing youth hunting quotas. In a letter sent to the county’s Fish and Game Commission, state biologist Craig Stowers wrote that officials intend to triple the maximum number of deer that hunters aged 12-16 are allowed to bag under an already-established hunt called J17. An earlier plan would have established a new youth hunt limited to the Loomis and Granite Bay area. That sparked outrage from residents and animal-welfare advocates who said the idea was unsafe and cruel. The issue is expected to take center stage Wednesday at a meeting of the Placer County Fish and Game Commission when Stowers presents the proposal as an information item. The new plan would bump up the number of deer that could be taken, from 25 to 75, by young hunters in a swath of land that runs from Soda Springs to Woodland. Under the proposal, the deer would be “antlerless” — does or males without horns. And hunters would be allowed to use any weapon already approved in the area, including bows. As under the existing rules, hunters would be restricted to one “tag,” or bagged deer. It’s part of an effort to reduce the local deer population, which some say is causing trouble on local roadways. “This should accomplish the objective of removing more antlerless deer from the target area through hunting while maintaining hunting opportunity in other areas of Placer County,” Stowers wrote. That’s done little to knock down the continuing controversy over the idea, which surfaced when Supervisor Kirk Uhler raised the issue of vehicle-deer collisions. Opponents have questioned that reasoning. “They still don’t have any scientific justification for the hunt, whether it’s 25 or 75,” said Loomis resident Janet Thew, of the group Citizens United to Ban the Bogus Deer Hunt. “If you look at the area, there shouldn’t be any kids running around killing wildlife.” Joshua Huntsinger, Placer County deputy agricultural commissioner, said the 50-animal increase “isn’t a whole lot of tags when spread over the whole area.” But he said the hunt could be a targeted way to reduce the area’s deer population. Officials say the number of vehicle-deer collisions has risen, suggesting the herd has become too large. “With buck hunting, you don’t really have an effect on the herd size,” Huntsinger said. “Because this issue has to do with herd management, does are really the only deer that count.” Loomis resident Marilyn Jasper said more study is needed to determine whether the area’s deer population is too high. She said the risk to public safety from the hunt outweighs the need. “My major opposition is to have this in a rural populated area when there are so many open, higher-elevation lands where they can hunt to their heart’s content,” Jasper said. “Why here?” Stowers wrote that “hunter check stations” would be established to record data on bagged deer. That would give biologists insight into the size and health of the herd. --------------------------------- MEETING What: Placer County Fish & Game Commission When: 7 p.m. Wednesday Where: 3091 County Center Drive, Auburn