East Bay Times

Plan to kill deer draws outrage

July 28, 2007
Linda Goldston, Bay Area News Group

SAN JOSE — Outcry over a plan to let archers thin a herd of deer in a gated hillside community in South San Jose has been so loud they can hear it in Sacramento.

Several residents of the Villages are up in arms over the idea, management is firing back and bow hunters are lining up to volunteer their services. One state official is even saying no one will get to kill deer in city limits, after all.
Officials already were besieged after an article in the community’s weekly paper said the deer would be slain as early as this week, prompting the killing to postponed. But the criticism hurled at management and state officials has only intensified since then.

“I’m one of the most hated people in the Bay Area right now,” said Steve Loupe, acting general manager of the 4,300-member community.

On Friday, residents were disputing the reason the hunters were being solicited in the first place — that deer with a taste for expensive landscaping were costing an estimated $10,000 a month in damage. In addition, California Fish and Game officials said they are rethinking their permit to let two bow hunters kill eight deer — bucks or does — in the community.

“The whole idea of this permit is being re-evaluated,” said Craig Stowers, deer program coordinator for Fish and Game. “I won’t say it will be pulled, but the process under which it was issued is being re-evaluated.”

Paul Masquelier, a 10-year resident of the Villages, said “a key board member” could give him only one minor example of the damage cited by the community’s maintenance director, a dry patch along a fence behind a nearby home.
“Upon further inspection and conversations with homeowners along the fence, I found that the landscaping was not drought tolerant and had not been properly watered,” Masquelier said. “The leaves had turned brown and dropped to the ground.”

Other residents said the problem was caused by people who planted roses and other plants that were attracting the deer.

Management, however, defended its decision. In a letter to be published in Thursday’s community paper, the presidents of two boards at the Villages called the deer “a safety issue that must be addressed.” The deer attract such predators as bobcats and mountain lions and “most susceptible are small children and household pets.” Residents of the Villages, however, must be 55 or older.

“Both your Association and Club Boards strive to seek the best solution given the contrasting desires of some of the residents to protect the deer and the need to maintain the overall safety of the community,” said the letter written by John Campbell, president of the Association Board, and Michael Kulakofsky, president of the Club Board.

Loupe, the acting general manager, said he had received dozens of calls about the issue, most of them against the plan but “more than 15” in support of it.
It was a reference to a statement published in the San Jose Mercury News that he said he wishes he hadn’t said — that 15 people made “hysterical calls to the San Jose Mercury News and NBC11” after learning the deer would be killed.
Despite plans by Fish and Game to re-evaluate the process that resulted in the permit being granted, “at this point, we plan to go ahead with it,” Loupe said.
Even the bow hunters are feeling a little of the heat, he said.

The permit granted by Fish and Game allows the hunters to kill bucks and does — “but the bow hunters volunteered not to take does,” Loupe said. “I’ve been told there is absolutely no intention whatsoever to remove any mothers of fawns.”
Four hunters contacted the San Jose Mercury News on Thursday and Friday, offering to help. A Fish and Game biologist estimated the herd at 100 to 200 deer.
“If they just wanted me to come down and thin it out a little bit, I’d be game for it,” said Dan Relei of Concord, a longtime hunter who remembers hunting for pig and deer with his cousins at the base of the Santa Cruz Mountains in the early 1970s.

Stowers, Fish and Game’s deer program coordinator, said “our enforcement people in the region are looking at this. In the biological world, there are certain truths that do not cross over into the real world. Public opinion, regardless of biological opinions, has to be considered.”

Permits like the one granted for the Villages are called depredation permits and are considered as last resorts, Stowers said. Even if the eight deer are killed as planned, that would not scare the rest of the herd away from the Villages, he said.
“I do not think, and many of my colleagues do not think, this is a long-term solution,” he said, adding that the longest amount of time the killing would serve as a deterrent to the other deer to stay away “could be a matter of days or weeks.
“Once the deer are taken, there are that many waiting outside the fence to take their place.”

Reach Linda Goldston of the San Jose Mercury News at lgoldston@sanjosemercurynews.com or 408-920-5862.