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State says deer hunt not needed

Controversial proposal gets thumbs-down
By: Joyia Emard, Gold Country News Services
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A controversial hunt that would target the local deer population gets a thumbs-down from the California Department of Fish and Game, officials said last week. The idea of a controlled deer hunt in the Granite Bay-area led to a spirited debate after Placer County Supervisor Kirk Uhler raised the issue of the “alarming increase” in auto-deer collisions. Now, state biologist Craig Stowers said the department will recommend against culling the local deer population through a hunt in a letter to the county game commission. Animal-rights activists called the hunt proposal cruel and unwarranted; hunters have said culling is necessary to ensure the health of the herd. “I never suggested a hunt. I brought it (the deer issue) up after witnessing my third deer strike by a car,” Uhler said. “I was alarmed at the number of deer carcasses I was seeing.” The town of Loomis weighed in on the issue when it recently sent a letter, signed by Mayor Walt Scherer, to the commission recommending denial of an option for a “con-trolled hunt to cull the deer population in the vicinity of Auburn-Folsom Road.” The letter stated that the deer herd belongs to the Loomis Basin and is a resource to the town residents and the herd --“freely moves across jurisdictional boundaries.” Uhler’s district includes Granite Bay and unincorporated Loomis. He said he grew up in the area and doesn’t remember seeing the large number of dead deer that are now found along the roadways. According to Uhler, a deer collision report was presented at the June county fish and game commission meeting. He said the commission was asked to determine if there was a problem, and if so to recommend solutions. “I’m in favor of letting the experts evaluate the situation and come to us with solutions,” Uhler said. Uhler said he would support a hunt only if it were recommended by experts, conducted in an area that already allows hunting, and if it were done in a manner currently allowed. Stowers said that the evidence “is not very conclusive” and that his department does not have the resources to determine the current or optimal size of the local deer herd. According to Josh Huntsinger, deputy agricultural commissioner for the county, animal control reported that the number of deer carcasses retrieved from the combined area of the Town of Loomis, unincorporated Loomis and Granite Bay had risen. Huntsinger’s report states that 12 deer carcasses were collected in 2006, 60 in 2007, and 69 in 2008. Huntsinger said the county public works department plans to add eight more deer-warning road signs along Auburn-Folsom Road and that the California Highway Patrol did not recommend lowering the speed limit. Huntsinger said birth control for the deer has been discussed, but is expensive and has “a variety of problems.” He said that deer relocation was also investigated, but that the mortality rate for the relocated deer is very high. One idea discussed at the March commission meeting was a special youth hunt conducted by 12- to 17-year-olds who had passed a hunter safety course, were licensed and accompanied by an adult. Loomis resident Bob and Rebecca Golling wrote in a letter to Gold Country Media that “The thought of a hunters tramping around with rifles … is far scarier to me.” Rebecca Golling blames the hunting proposal on “suburbanites” who move to the area and discover that the deer eat their plants. The county fish and game commission will meet at 7 p.m. Aug. 26, at 3091 County Center Drive in Auburn. For more information call, (530