More deer killed in Dalton Gardens

A total of eight animals have been poached in the last week

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A deer stands outside a Dalton Gardens home Friday afternoon. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game reported five more deer killed between Thursday and Friday, leaving eight poached deer in the last week.

DALTON GARDENS - Five more deer were found shot dead Thursday and Friday in Dalton Gardens, bringing the total to eight deer fatally shot by poachers in the last week.

Three of the deer were does that were carrying fawns, and a small caliber weapon was used in each instance, according to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

"They are likely being shot at night or in the very early morning," said Phil Cooper, an IDFG spokesman, on the string of shootings around residential neighborhoods in the small town north of Coeur d'Alene. "It's hard to believe nobody heard any shot."

The first three dead deer were originally reported between Feb. 7- 9. On Thursday morning, two more deer were killed near 16th Street and Hanley Avenue. Another three were then found Friday also in the vicinity, at 16th Street and Wilbur Avenue and at Snowberry Street near Hanley Avenue.

Two of the first three deer shot last week were also found near 16th Street and Wilbur Avenue.

Neighbors Friday said news on the shootings was alarming. They hadn't seen anything out of the ordinary to raise suspicions, but knowing that one or more people were opening fire in the middle of town was an unsettling thought.

"It's scary," said Rebecca Heffter, who has lived on the corner of 16th Street and Hanley Avenue for nine months, but didn't hear or see anything relating to poaching. "We moved out here so our kids could run around and be safe ... It's very concerning."

Mike McGinnis, who lives in Dalton Gardens near the killings, said he thought he heard a bullet hit his shed one recent night while he was home.

He said he doesn't know if that had anything to do with the carcasses found not far from his driveway, but "it's not too cool to hunt them down in the neighborhood."

The deer population has been a long-standing issue in Dalton Gardens, a town with a population of 2,335 that sits next to Canfield Mountain. The homes, which typically sit on one-acre parcels, have ample gardens, trees and lawns which some residents say deer trample and destroy.

Jerry Schomer, a Dalton Gardens resident, said he saw about 18 deer across Totten Lane, near the shooting area, from his house a couple days ago.

"I think they need to cut down on the deer population," he said. "You can't hardly keep anything growing here without having it fenced in."

He said Totten practically serves as a wildlife corridor for the deer coming into the city off Canfield Mountain to the east, but that shooting deer wasn't the proper solution.

"I'm a little concerned, yes," he said.

In 2011, the city explored ways to reduce the number of deer in the city and one suggestion floated at the time was letting hunters thin the population.

But that idea never got off the ground, Mayor Dan Franklin said Friday. Instead, the city is exploring looking at the its fencing ordinance and promoting education when it comes to deer.

"It's sad when we resort to measures like that," he said of the poaching spree. "That's not the way we take care of problems ... That's not the appropriate action. That's just the bottom line."

The deer season in North Idaho currently is closed, so the shooting of a deer is a violation of state wildlife laws.

The unlawful killing of one deer in Idaho is a misdemeanor with a possible fine of up to $1,000 and a potential six-month jail term. If someone kills more than one deer unlawfully within a 12-month period they can be charged with a felony.

Discharging a firearm within the city limits of Dalton Gardens also is illegal.

Shirlene Crow, a Dalton Gardens resident for 16 years, said deer can be seen as pests for homeowners there, but found the news of the poaching spree troubling, saying it sounded as if someone was "out to eradicate them."

"In the 16 years I've been here I've never heard of anything like this," she said.

Anyone with information about the recent shootings can call Fish and Game at (208) 769-1414; or, the Citizens Against Poaching (CAP) hotline at (800) 632-5999.

Callers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a CAP reward if the information provided leads to the arrest and conviction of those responsible, Fish and Game said.

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