View Full Version : Texas town votes to hire silencer-equipped sharpshooters

December 6, 2000, 08:20 AM

Check this out!

December 6, 2000, 01:07 PM
hmmm. The title sugested killing deer. I'm very dissapointed in the story:( :D

December 6, 2000, 04:07 PM
Why don't they just relocate some and extend the hunting season and drive them into huntable lands.

I'd love to take an extra deer or at least harvest them for the food banks and the homeless.

December 6, 2000, 06:45 PM
Here's the full text:

Dec. 6, 2000, 10:50AM

Texas town cuts deal to get rid of whitetails
Copyright 2000 Houston Chronicle

One thousand Hill Country deer have literally dodged the bullet, as Lakeway officials suspended plans to let silencer-equipped sharpshooters thin a growing herd living in the community northwest of Austin.

And the yuletide reprieve comes with an all-expenses-paid trip for the deer to ranches outside Monterrey in northern Mexico.

Wild deer graze in the yards of Lakeway, near Austin. Cement giant Cemex is paying to relocate 1,000 whitetails to ranchland in Mexico.

On Nov. 7, residents in the community on the shores of Lake Travis voted 51 percent to 49 percent to hire a team of expert sharpshooters to cull the burgeoning deer population. A city census put the population at 1,700 malnourished whitetails in the 5,000-acre town, a hungry herd that stripped the community of shrubs, flowers and garden vegetables.

Despite 700 deer killed last year in traffic collisions in town and relocation in the spring of 650 deer to East Texas, Lakeway remained awash in whitetails.

But now, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department officials say a Mexican cement conglomerate has agreed to pay to relocate 1,000 deer to a company ranch in the north Mexico state of Nuevo Leon. The deer will be used as seed stock to replenish Mexican ranches where cattle operations and unrestricted hunting have depleted native deer stocks.

"It's a win-win situation," said Lakeway Mayor Charles A. Edwards. "Not only will we be able to get rid of 1,000 deer we sorely need to, but they will be able to stock some ranches where I understand they are getting their habitat built up.

"It will be a good place to rear future generations of these deer."

Lakeway residents who favored humane relocation of the deer expressed cautious approval.

"I think the community is quite relieved," said Tom Griffiths, a Lakeway businessman who chaired the Stop the Shooting In Lakeway Committee.

"If you like the deer, this is a good solution," said Griffith, whose group is working to find ranches in Texas where other deer can be transported. "They don't have to die; there doesn't have to be shooting."

And Griffith said discussions with Texas Parks and Wildlife biologists have allayed concerns the nearly tame deer would be quickly dispatched once in Mexico.

"I've had several comments that these deer won't make it 10 minutes past the border and will end up as taco meat," said Bryan Richards, a state biologist who is helping Lakeway. "There's really no basis for those statements."

Richards said Cemex, also known as Cementos de Mexico, one of the world's largest cement manufacturers, has assembled 100,000 acres of its own ranchland and neighboring ranches in Nuevo Leon where it has worked since 1994 to establish whitetail populations.

The Lakeway deer would be the initial seed stock for future generations, said Richards, who noted the ranchers entered game-transfer agreements with Parks and Wildlife in early 1999.

Cemex has hired a San Antonio firm to begin trapping and transporting the 1,000 deer -- at $125 for each one that arrives alive -- to the border at Laredo later this month, Richards said.

But the biologist cautioned that trapping and transporting deer usually results in a 20 percent to 30 percent mortality rate in the months following relocation because of the stress of netting, handling and transporting.

Small explosive charges will be used to fling 60-by-60-foot nets on deer as they graze on bait corn, Richards said.

Lakeway officials say the Mexico transfer will save them more than $150,000, noting the plan to shoot deer in the community was more expensive than trapping and relocation.

The sharpshooters hired to cull the herd employ expensive night-vision optics, low-velocity ammunition and silencers. The deer must be field-dressed on the spot, placed in coolers for a trip to a meat-processing plant and then transported to a charity, Edwards said.

But the mayor said the Mexico transfer, while reducing the deer population by half, is not the end of the problem.

"It won't totally alleviate our problem, but it will go a long way toward it," Edwards said.

Richards, a Parks and Wildlife biologist who heads the department's trapping efforts, has recommended installation of a deer fence on the west side of Lakeway to discourage migration.

The growing development in the Hill Country, which is home to the densest population of deer in America, has caused similar problems in other small communities, Richards said.

"There are so many more of these new developments coming in, and probably the worst you can do is landscape, fertilize and water, thus providing unlimited forage" for deer, Richards said.

"And since it's a development, you prohibit the discharge of firearms and preclude the most effective control method, hunting," he said. "The results are very predictable. ... You have an absolute deer crisis."

December 6, 2000, 07:19 PM
I live near the Lakeway township and am quite familiar with this situation. IMHO, transplanting these deer is only a short term fix to the problem. If fact, over the years, the TPWD has trapped and transplanted deer from this area and only recently refused to continue the process due to the cost per animal and the lack of places in Texas that need additional deer. Hence, the recent vote by Lakeway citizens to try a different approach.

Driving the deer back to the surrounding woodlands is not a workable solution. Since the developed area offers so much lucious landscaping (and some of the residents routinely feed the deer, too!) the real issue is that deer are actually recruited from the surrounding wild areas, further increasing the herd size! I suspect this is the reason that TPWD suggests the fence on the west side of the area --to cut down on deer recruitment.

I wonder what will happen when the Mexican cement folks decide that they have enough brood stock!?! Who will want the excess deer then?

All the while, the deer in Lakeway continue to multiply with the only predators being the automobile bumpers of the local citizenry.

And by the way, these deer are anything but mal-nourished. With all the food available in people's yards, the supplemental feeding by residents, and the highly fertilized browsing available on the three local golf courses, these deer are in quite good condition. Some of the bucks there will give the shakes to any serious hunter!

Regards, JBGood

Art Eatman
December 6, 2000, 10:27 PM
Three or four years back, there were articles about the same sort of problem in Austin's bedroom communities of Rollingwood and West Lake Hills. Half the people were feeding the cute little Bambis; those who cared about their shrubbery regarded Bambi as a rat with hooves.

1,700 deer. Subtract 1,000, leaving 700. Hmmm. That means that around three or four years from now, they'll have 1,700 deer. :) That, kiddies, is what "geometric progression" is all about. Population dynamics and all that.

Note that while "1,000...deer have...dodged the bullet", 300 are gonna die, anyway, from "stress". I guess it's alright if they die out of sight of anybody...

The taco idea sounds good...

:), Art

December 10, 2000, 02:40 AM
Art: I have had Bambi tacos and they are good :D

Why don't they just open the area to extended bow hunting? Cheaper than hiring "experts" with expensive equipment.

Or they could get a bunch of people [boys scouts, college students, etc.] together and do a mongol type drive. Get them penned up in temporary fences and just process them?

Art Eatman
December 10, 2000, 09:14 AM
Well, there ya go, Glamdring. Advocating practical reality in a world full of Soccer Moms.

When the inmates take over the asylum, I submit that it is time to vote with one's feet. I did just that very thing.

I can guarantee you, if the populations of Terlingua and Lakeway were exchanged, nobody at Parks & Wildlife or CeMex would ever hear of such a "problem". Now, there might be comments on the Internet about the low cost of quality protein for Lakeway residents...

:), Art

Matt VDW
December 11, 2000, 12:36 PM
I have to wonder:

When communities decide to hire "expert marksmen", where do they go to find them? The Yellow Pages? Deerkillers.com? And what sort of credentials are required to get that job?

Art Eatman
December 11, 2000, 11:35 PM
Well, Matt, in my cynicism I'd say that an off-duty Game Warden and his relatives are, by definition, "expert marksmen". Or, deputies...

Perception always triumphs over reality, in the U.S. of A. in the Year Of Our Lord 2000. That is, in the minds of those who would not dare suggest killing Bambi, themselves, or allowing you or me to hunt, there is no doubt that anybody with a badge is an expert marksman. It is probable that they also believe that an "expert marksman" would derive no pleasure--which is their problem with you and me, anyway.

:), Art

Matt VDW
December 12, 2000, 10:20 AM
I also have to wonder about this part:

The sharpshooters hired to cull the herd employ expensive night-vision optics, low-velocity ammunition and silencers.

Why do they need night-vision optics, for crying out loud? They're going to hunt deer, not the Viet Cong. :) I would guess that there are plenty of poachers who manage to kill deer "covertly" with less than $500 worth of gear. Heck, if you could use bait, I'd think that a hand held spotlight and headshots with a .22 Hornet would be effective.

This reminds me of another news story I read about a neighborhood in New York City being overrun by giant rats. My thought: this "crisis" could be brought to a quick end by a few country boys with .22 rifles. Oh, but that would involve - GASP! - guns! :eek: God forbid that someone other than the local crackheads should do a little shooting in New Yawk; better to let the children be eaten by rats.


December 13, 2000, 10:09 PM
Matt, I suspect the night vision stuff is so the citizens don’t have to actually see Bambi killed. The "sharpshooters" will pop the deer after the taxpayers are asleep and have the mess cleaned up before morning. This way people don’t have to face the reality that even though they hired "experts" instead of (free) hunters, the deer are still killed just as dead.