Wisconsin city to hire sharpshooters in bid to control growing deer herd

West Bend, Wis. — The city of West Bend will hire sharpshooters in an attempt to control a growing deer herd in the city.

On Sept. 10, the city council approved a recommendation from the West Bend Deer Management Committee to contract with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service-Wildlife Services (APHIS-WS) to kill a total of 60 deer – 30 deer each from Lac Lawrann Conservancy and Ridge Run Park.

The contract with APHIS-WS specifies that the city will be charged a maximum of $9,000 for the sharpshooters and equipment used in the process. West Bend is applying for a $4,500 Urban Wildlife Damage Abatement and Control grant to pay for half the cost of the deer removal program.

Since this is the first time the city has applied for the grant, they have been told it is likely the grant will be issued.

APHIS-WS will establish bait sites on the two properties. Trail cameras will be used to determine the best time of day to have sharpshooters in place. The shooting will probably take place in January, but that is not a requirement.

The sharpshooters will likely use elevated stands, but deer might be shot from the ground if the shot is made in a safe, downward direction.

APHIS-WS will shoot a maximum of four days in each of the parks or when 30 deer are removed from a property. The contract states that APHIS-WS will remove the deer carcasses and entrails from the property and take them to a designated place specified by the city administrator or designee.

The police department will close the properties while the shooting is taking place.

The contract does not include processing of the deer. The committee hoped to use the state’s deer donation program to process the deer for distribution to food pantries, but since these deer will not be shot through permits issued to individual hunters, that food pantry program may not be used.

The committee is exploring options that include allowing citizens to take the carcasses for personal use, or finding an organization willing to donate money for processing so the meat can be donated to food pantries.

The city has been wrestling with how to control a growing deer herd for years. In August 2016, a proposal was made to the council to conduct a controlled hunt in seven city parks.

After numerous meetings, the council agreed to hold controlled archery hunts in Lac Lawrann Conservancy and Ridge Run Park in January this year.

Nine hunters applied to participate, but after proficiency testing, only five qualified. At that time a decision was made to only hold the hunt at Lac Lawrann.

Hunters then had to deal with less-than-ideal weather during the hunt, and only three deer were killed. One day was unseasonable warm and hunters reported little deer movement that day. It rained another day and two days had very cold temperatures.

At a post-hunt meeting, the city deer committee members concluded it was unlikely future archery hunts would kill enough deer to control the herd.

The mayor and council decided the properties must be closed to the public during such hunts. The city was unwilling to close the parks in the fall, when the weather would be more conducive to hunting.


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