Having moved into town from the county, I’ve been surprised at the deer-dodging I have to do every day on the roads. It seems that all the deer have likewise moved into town. Has anyone taken a census as to how many deer there are in Durango these days? They must be catching up to the dog population. – Nick
As longtime readers will recall, Action Line is less than fond of fawn fauna.
The dang deer are everywhere. Their landscape-destroying abilities know no bounds.
They aren’t afraid of noisy cars or barking dogs. When an irascible newspaper columnist hurls dirt clods at them, the ungulate interlopers just look bored and resume browsing.
Their penchant to reproduce is matched only by the number of ticks they carry. They are rats with hooves.
On the other hand, some folks really enjoy the urban deer. The deer are dear. People give them names.
Action Line doesn’t want to lock horns over the pest vs. pet issue. So let’s just look at the numbers.
Despite what you see in town, mule deer are on the decline statewide and have been for years.
This prompted Colorado Parks and Wildlife to convene a “deer summit” a couple months back at which a ton of research was presented.
In 2005, there were an estimated 614,000 deer in the state. Eight years later, that figure was 390,000 – a 36 percent decrease. That compares to a 10 percent decline throughout the West, according to Parks and Wildlife figures.
The reasons are many. Among them: hard winters followed by drought, development and energy production in deer habitat, chronic wasting disease and too-thick forests stemming from fire suppression.
We checked in with our good friend Joe Lewandowski, Parks and Wildlife’s regional public information officer. Has the deer picture changed in the past couple of years?
“It’s a little better,” he said. “From the aerial counts we do, there appears to be a slight increase in the herds – at least in the wildlands.”
As for the number of urban deer, “that would be impossible to track,” Joe said. “But there does seem to be a lot of deer in town.”
So let’s start a totally unscientific roll call, starting with the cantankerous Animas City neighborhood.
The erstwhile deer herd now has swelled to 11 with last year’s dual set of twins.
It would have been 12, but the one deer with a bad leg wasn’t around this winter. Mrs. Action Line called him “Gimpy.”
Yah, we name them too.
Anyway, Joe Lewandowski wanted to make an important point.
But not about deer.
“Could you please tell your readers that I am not related to Cory Lewandowski.”
Cory Lewandowski is the in-your-face campaign manager for the in-your-face Donald Trump.
Meanwhile, back home on the range, Lewandowski – Joe, not Cory – reminded local residents to not feed the deer. Yes, there are several Durangoans doing this.
If a well-meaning but ill-informed neighbor puts out apples or whatnot, give the local Parks and Wildlife office a call at 247-0855.
Your report will be anonymous, and a wildlife officer will make a polite visit to explain the importance of not feeding wildlife.
But in a way, we all are guilty of feeding wildlife. The green lawns, ornamental shrubs, blooming flowers and irrigated landscaping have created a free 24/7 salad bar for the deer.
No wonder all these deer settle down in town. The livin’ is easy, and the townsfolk are generous, if not gullible.
That’s precisely what attracts and keeps all the beggars here.
Next thing you know, we’ll see deer hanging around downtown sidewalks or outside of Walmart with cardboard signs saying: “Will Ravage Your Garden For Food” or “Lost My Antlers … Anything Helps.”
Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail them to Action Line, The Durango Herald, 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 81301. You can request anonymity if you play ‘deer chicken,’ a time-honored game in which deer line the side of the road and see who can dash out and get the closest to an oncoming car without getting hit.