Growing up in Spokane, whenever my family saw an animal that was not a cat, a dog, or some type of domesticated pet, it was a big deal. We just did not see wildlife that often so our jaws always dropped when we saw something out of the ordinary, such as a raccoon or a moose. Another animal that would immediately cause my dad to slam on the brakes and have all of us look out the window in awe was a deer. Seeing a bambi on a trip would all but secure the fact that we would be talking about the sighting for the remainder of the car ride.
Deer were rare, wild, and mystical creatures that everyone in my family had a fascination with. Then I moved to Montana…
When I first moved to Missoula and started going to school here, I was very impressed and amazed at the plethora and “friendliness” of the deer around the town. Never had I seen a deer up close, let alone ten of them at once. I remember daily walking across campus from my residence hall to the gym at 6am in the morning and walking past a whole troop of deer that would congregate in the middle of the oval (big grassy space in the center of campus at UM). It seemed to me that it was Montana at its finest, man one with nature.
However, somewhere along the way my opinion started to change a little. The novelty started to wear off a little bit. Probably at the point when I moved up into the Rattlesnake did I realize that these deer might not be as cool as I first thought. I didn’t necessarily like them overtaking our lawn and leaving their droppings all over the place. They kind of put a damper on Halloween when they would eat our jack-o-lanterns one hour after we put them out on our porch. Waiting for them to leave the road when a big pack congregated right in the middle of it was a waste of my time. I didn’t particularly care for the shot of adrenaline I got the many times a deer would randomly jump out in front of me and I would have to make a split second turn of the wheel to avoid smashing it. Oh well, I guess that feeling was a lot better than what I felt after I actually did smash into a deer (that car has since been totaled)…
Missoula has an urban deer problem. Up where I live they run wild and they run rampant. They dominate our neighborhood streets and our bigger roadways. For all the people who don’t maintain their lawns, the deer have taken over camp and use it as their hang out headquarters. The degree that the Missoula urban deer “don’t give a shit” surpasses that of even the honey badger…I am not kidding. You really can’t rattle these creatures, mainly because they are too stupid to even realize what is going on. They basically run suicide missions on the hour every hour as they sprint across and down the roadways right in front of vehicles.
A bunch of urban deer in my backyard.
Lately, the city of Missoula has taken a closer look at this dilemma. It is very likely that legislation could get passed and Missoula could implement a program intended to diminish the urban deer population. The city would most likely borrow a plan used by Helena, another city in Montana that saw their neighborhoods overridden with urban deer. Basically, the city would set traps for the deer that would catch them in nets. When a deer is caught, the city would send a responder out who would humanely euthanize the deer. Next, the carcass would be taken to a center where it would be cleaned and cut up and its meat sent to a food bank for needy families.
Well I am definitely all for the trapping and humanely euthanizing of the urban deer I don’t entirely know about sending their meat to food banks. If you could see some of the deer up in my neck of the woods, you would understand what I mean. These are not your healthy, strong, stereotypical beautiful animals. Many of them are straggly and sad looking. You have to realize that these urban deer are out of their natural habitat and mainly dine on garbage and fertilized grass. The idea of any of the deer from my neighborhood ending up on my dinner plate disgusts the hell out of me. I would not wish that as a meal for anyone, no matter how hungry someone is.
An urban deer in my lawn from this past fall. Does not look too healthy to me.
I really don’t like the idea of killing animals, especially if there is no use for them once they have been put down. But something needs to be done about the population of deer in Missoula. I would support trapping them and transporting them out into the wild, but I imagine a few things would happen: They would either immediately get killed by predators or other deer because of their weak condition, they would starve to death because they never learned to properly hunt, or they would just return back to an urban environment. Also, I imagine that the time and resources to transport the deer into a more proper habitat would cost the city way too much money. So if there is no other option, I would go along with having the animals trapped and euthanized…just please don’t distribute their meat.
While urban deer cause a mess in our neighborhoods and eat our pumpkins/flowers/plants, this is not the main reason why we need to lower the population. Bottom line, they are a safety hazard. They cause way too many automobile accidents and negatively impact the lives of many people.
So until the city passes legislation to get this problem under control, I will let the urban deer continue to entertain and put a smile on the faces of my friends who come visit me from the west who think that deer in my neighborhood is the coolest thing they have ever seen. But once some type of ordinance is put into place, I will be more than happy to lay out some of those traps. Don’t Blink.