Wednesday, February 06, 2008

WISCONSIN NEWS: Cull in Portage Underway

The total take in Portage's deer-kill program stands at 59, and there are plenty more of the animals still in the area, City Parks, Recreation and Forestry Director Tim Raimer said Tuesday.

Ten deer were killed Friday night, Raimer said, putting the total at 59 since hunters from Spring Green-based Wildlife Specialists started in late December.

Raimer said when hunters arrived at one of the sites Friday, there were a dozen deer standing near a bait pile. Last Friday was the first time hunters had been out since Jan. 11.

The program aims to control an overabundant deer population within city limits. Raimer said the program is having its intended results.

"The people that are against it are mad because there are less deer around. The people who are for it are happy because there are less deer around. The bottom line is, there are less deer around," he said.

The city is more than halfway to the 100 deer it has budgeted to kill. Wildlife Specialists charges $85 per kill at five baiting sites around the city.

When requested by the city, the company sends sharpshooters armed with high-powered rifles, silencers and night-vision equipment to sites in the city, including bait piles near the Parks and Recreation office at 806 Silver Lake Drive, near the Portage airport, and at Collipp-Worden and Woodridge parks.

Gunderson hill near the Rolling Hills Country Estates on the city's northeast side no longer is being hunted.

Raimer said he will discuss the program at tonight's Municipal Services & Utilities Committee meeting. It is not on the agenda, but Raimer gives a department update during the session. The meeting is at 6:30 p.m. at the municipal building.

Common Council member Rick Dodd, chairman of the committee, said he has received almost entirely positive feedback on the program because people notice a difference, especially in the areas near Woodridge and Collipp-Worden parks and the park and rec office.

He said he supported the program because that's what feedback from residents dictated.
"I don't take any personal stock in it right now because they're not bothering my property and I haven't hit any" in my car, he said.

The program restarted in the city after citizens complained that deer were aggressively moving inward into the city limits on private property, destroying vegetation. They also argued that it was a public safety issue for drivers as well as a public-health issue because deer tend to help propagate Lyme disease.

A similar program ran in the city from 1999 to 2002.


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