Texas Retirement Community Residents Want Deer Trapping to Stop

By author of The Realblog with Stephanie Mallory

Almost 25,000 people have signed a petition to end the practice

Some residents in the Sun City retirement community in Georgetown, Texas, say they want the deer-trapping program that’s been in place for 17 years to stop.

“The primary reason why we relocated here was because of the wildlife and the natural beauty,” Sun City resident Laurel Mulvey told KXAN.

Mulvey and her husband moved to the community two years ago but said they would have moved elsewhere had they known that some of the deer in the area were netted and killed by paid trappers.

A special permit from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department allows trappers to drop nets on deer that are lured in with corn. The deer are then loaded onto trailers and taken to a processing facility where they are killed; the meat is donated to a charitable organization.

Those who are speaking out against trapping the deer claim the community association’s wildlife committee, which is in charge of the program, is not being transparent about it or open to hearing from anyone against the practice.

The meetings, which occur once a month, are not public and are only open to Sun City residents.

Sun City’s wildlife biologist and committee member Warren Bluntzer says the organization is transparent about the trapping process and open to considering other suggestions for controlling the deer population. He also says the program has been a success, with trappers netting between 125 and 200 deer each year between January and March.

“The reality is, this program operates off of science,” Bluntzer told Realtree.com. “Science dictates what we need to do to keep a healthy deer herd on the little bit of healthy habitat we have available. We do a census of the deer population every year. The census determines whether or not we need to continue the program. If there wasn’t a population problem, we wouldn’t conduct the program.”

Bluntzer says urban deer don’t tend to travel much because they don’t have the need to, thanks to golf courses and water sources. Without limiting factors, such as hunting, the population can increase exponentially.  

He says hunting is not an option in the Sun City retirement community because of safety concerns and municipality regulations, but people do hunt in the neighboring rural areas.

Mulvey still believes the deer should be left alone and started an online petition to “Stop Barbaric and Inhumane Deer Netting,” which so far almost 25,000 people have signed. In the petition she claims Sun City does not have a problem with deer overpopulation or the issues associated with too many deer, such as disease. 

Bluntzer said the practice of netting is neither barbaric nor inhumane as Mulvey claims. 

“The process is under strict guidelines for animal warefare,” he said. “It’s well regulated and we are bound to do everything possible to ensure the animals are handled humanely.”

According to Sun City wildlife committee chair Henry Schuessler, the community association pays approximately $40,000 a year to run the program. Approximately $35,000 goes to the trappers, and another $5,000 covers testing and processing the deer. 

Trapping is not a new method for controlling the deer population in residential areas, but it is controversial. After video footage taken of trapped deer in Lakeway, Texas, went viral in 2018, the program was stopped due to the number of complaints. 

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