In a 5-2 vote, the Cody City Council Tuesday night directed police to proceed with a plan to cull 50 does from the town-dwelling deer herd.
Under Cody Police Chief Chuck Baker’s direction, two sharpshooters, one serving as a safety lookout and the other operating a firearm, will likely conduct the harvest of does next January and February.
Mayor Nancy Tia Brown, Karen Ballinger, Jerry Fritz, Steve Miller and Donny Anderson supported the one-year trial.
Opposed were Landon Greer and Stan Wolz. While the two men had differing reasons, both cited opposition to the $5,000-$6,000 annual drain on the budget at a time when the city is making cuts.
The council directed Baker to obtain a Wyoming Game and Fish permit allowing police to harvest deer “to relieve and prevent destruction to private property and protect human health and safety.”
An annual Game and Fish estimate of deer living in city limits has remained around 300 for the last five years. The community’s position on whether problems with deer warrant the culling plan appears about 50/50. Many Cody residents, including those who spoke at the two-and-a-half hour council discussion, enjoy cohabitating with deer in town and believe the wildlife is important to the tourist experience.
But several city council members said complaints are on the rise, too many deer are injured and killed in traffic accidents and deer are becoming bold to the point of attacking dogs, and potentially could hurt children.
Brown reminded the 20-25 people in the Council Chamber the city’s intent is to manage the number of deer, not eliminate the herd.
Next year, using data compiled by the Cody Police Department, the council will re-evaluate the plan and decide at that time whether to renew the Game and Fish permit for another year.
“I’m very heartbroken,” said Becky Walsh after the vote. Walsh
was among the Cody residents passionately against reducing the urban deer herd. “But [the plan] can be, and it should be, and it will be, re-evaluated.
“It’s not over,” she said. “You’ll see us again in 2017.”
(Rhonda Schulte can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)