GARDEN RIDGE, Texas – Jan. 17, 2017 UPDATE: During a specially-called City Council meeting on Tuesday, city leaders opted to suspend the catch and kill practice for the remainder of their permit, which ends in March. In the meantime, the city will create a special committee that will help come up with alternatives.
The city of Garden Ridge voted on a controversial decision to continue trapping and killing an overpopulated deer herd that’s within its city limits.
Living surrounded by wildlife is a main reason Mark Ecton said he moved to Garden Ridge.
“They move around freely. They're a part of our community,” he said.
City leaders said the wildlife is too big a part of the community. The state estimates Garden Ridge has at least 3,000 deer, which is 10 times the amount recommended for a healthy herd. That’s why the city hired professionals to trap the deer with large nets.
Once the deer are captured, they’re killed and their meat is processed and donated to food shelters around the state.
“There was a survey sent out saying, ‘Hey, should we thin the herd?’ And a lot of people said ‘Yes.’ What a lot of people did not know is that thinning that herd was trapping, harvesting, killing, getting rid of. It wasn't relocation,” Ecton said.
Ecton said he doesn’t like the traps being out in the open.
“We have a deer trap right there at the corner, where our kids come to this park and play,” he said.
Neighbor Kenneth Kneupper doesn’t see a problem with catching the deer. He agrees that trapping them is the only way to control the population.
“These deer are not mistreated when they are captured. They're put into trailers and then they're taken off to a processing plant where they are killed. Just like a farmer would take a cow or pig or any farm animal,” Kneupper said.
After hearing from the community. The City Council voted 4 to 1 to continue the current trapping program until the city’s permit runs out in March. That's when the city will reassess the situation.
Community members said a majority of people at the meeting were against the trapping, and two people who yelled at the council after the vote were escorted out.
The City Council urged the community to join the Deer Committee, which will help them make a decision in March.