Posted: Oct 16, 2013 10:32 PM by Dennis Bragg - MTN News
Updated: Oct 16, 2013 10:33 PM
MISSOULA - Recent mountain lion sightings on Missoula's south side are renewing discussion about the city having its own program to control urban deer, which are probably on the lions' menu.
Reports of mountain lions, and perhaps as many as three of the big cats, are causing concerns about safety, especially for kids and pets, in the South Hills. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks agents have been combing the woods to try and track the cats but so far without success.
That's rebooted interest in having some kind of a program to control deer populations, which are likely one of the reasons the cats are coming out of the hills.
The Missoula City Council discussed that idea last year but it failed to gain traction among a majority of the council. However Councilman Jon Wilkens pressed for more work on the idea. And he says recent developments may put in back on the front burner, "You know if we don't address it today we're going to address it sometime down in the future because unfortunately the deer that live in our neighborhood keep multiplying."
Wednesday night, the deer problems were on the agenda for the University District Neighborhood Council. Many in this audience have a front row seat to the destruction and disruption.
Wilkens admits the cost of a deer control program might be the biggest obstacle, so he suggested the city might look into a different approaching than killing them, saying some communities have had good success darting urban deer with a contraceptive. That's cheaper, and could steep breeding for 2-years. Even then, he told the audience it will be up to the public to call on the city to take action, "Where is the priority in people's mind? Is it on deer or is it that sidewalk, doing numerous things, filling potholes and all that. So that's where the decisions have really got to come down to. Is it a big enough problem to work on or not?"
The city council doesn't have any additional meetings scheduled to discuss the urban deer problem so it remains to be seen whether the latest developments will re-start those discussions.