Lampasas third Town Hall Meeting of the year Monday evening was the most well attended yet. All the seats were filled at the Hostess House to hear discussion on three emotionally charged topics; the growing deer population, street parking and storage of RVs and trailers, and livestock in Lampasas.
Emphasis was made that the purpose of the meeting was both to inform and to gather citizen input. No ordinances were proposed, but it was clear the City is seeking a response to growing complaints from all sides regarding the three issues. Police Chief Sammy Bailey moderated discussion.
First topic up, the growing deer population and attendant issues, took well over half of the meeting. The problems are clear, with deer-vehicle collisions in 2017 resulting in 210 deer killed in Lampasas, resulting in $840,000 in vehicle damage. There is also the problem of diseases carried by deer, and the damage to landscapes and gardens. Kevin Schwausch, wildlife biologist for Texas Parks and Wildlife, made a thorough presentation of the problem from a national, state, and local view. Clearly no single solution can solve the problem so communities have to take advantage of the experience of other communities and the counsel of wildlife experts to come up with a local approach. Schwausch outlined several possibilities, including some non-lethal methods of reducing the number of deer on the streets:
Ban on feeding. This may slow down infiltration of new deer coming into an area, but the ones already there will not leave. Deer are very territorial. It could be a place to start but it needs to be used in combination with other methods of control.
Contraception. Each female deer would have to be treated and that would be prohibitively expensive - $350 to $1,100 per deer.
Trap Transport and Translocation (TTT). Suitable, approved new deer habitats must be found. Deer may be injured, and the process can be expensive - $150 to $750 per deer.
Some lethal methods include:
Trap Transport and Process (TTP). Can be used where firearms are restricted. Deer are harvested, and meat is donated to charitable organizations. This is also expensive - $175 to $350 per deer.
Individual Hunting. Requires a high degree of training and coordination among the community and hunters. Archery could be used. This could cost from $85 to $300 per deer.
Assistant City Manager Gary Cox provided a rundown of other Texas communities, such as Horseshoe Bay, using TTP and a feeding ban; and Lakeway went from TTT to TTP in 2003.
Development of a deer management solution will take time and requires ongoing community input and involvement. It was clear the attitude in the room was for beginning a process. The City Council will likely take up the formation of a citizen-based Wildlife Committee that will investigate appropriate solutions for Lampasas.
The balance of the evening was evenly divided between the issues of, RV/trailer parking and storage on city streets, and livestock being kept in the City. These topics will show up in tomorrow’s Radiogram.