To feed or not to feed remains a question in Dalton

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DALTON GARDENS — The Dalton Gardens City Council decided Thursday night to send a draft ordinance on deer feeding back for revisions, following significant public comment and council discussions.

The public input included some support for the draft ordinance and also concerns about enforcement of such an ordinance. There was also some concern about turning neighbors against each other through reporting violators.

Mayor Dan Franklin proposed the council members each forward specific recommendations for changes to the city’s land planner Cheri Howell, and the council agreed to provide the feedback. More than 30 people from the public attended the meeting, many of whom provided comment.

During the council discussion of the draft ordinance, Councilman Dick Epstein said the number of deer in the city needs to be reduced “by quite a bit.”

The problem with a do-not-feed ordinance, however, is it could negatively impact people with horses, cows, goats and other animals, Epstein said.

“I’m at this point really looking at maybe a way to cull the herd (rather) than a do-not-feed ordinance,” he said.

Deputy Mayor Steve Roberge said it’s important to find a way to educate the public about what effect feeding deer can have on the animals. He questioned whether a do-not-feed ordinance would even have the desired effect.

“Will that reduce our deer?” Roberge said. “I don’t know. Probably not.”

In any case, he doesn’t support fines for violators, if such an ordinance were ever approved by the council.

“I know I shouldn’t speak off the cuff, but I’m going to say this,” said Councilman Joe Myers. “I almost wonder what would happen if we would repeal our no-hunting-in-Dalton ordinance?”

Then go back to Idaho Department of Fish and Game regulations, and let the agency set the standards, Myers said.

Franklin said discussion of the draft ordinance was on the council’s agenda because of “reaction from our constituents” and complaints.

“My recommendation would be, No. 1, go back and review this ordinance that Cheri gave you and give her some concrete input,” Franklin said.

He wanted the feedback provided within the next seven days, he said.

“I would just challenge you to take some of those steps and move this thing — move it forward, or kill it,” Franklin said.

City attorney Ken Jacobsen said he concurred with a December 2013 memorandum to council about the “difficulty, if not impossibility of enforcement” of such a deer-feeding ordinance in an agricultural community.

“So before we go too far with an ordinance — nobody has asked me, but I feel what the community is saying right now — you’ve got some real enforcement problems,” Jacobsen said.

According to the council meeting minutes for Dec. 5, Councilman Epstein said he thought the city needed to start with a “do-not-feed” ordinance.

Myers, according to the minutes, said he favored a “depravation hunt.”

Roberge would consider some sort of “birth control,” the minutes said. Roberge agreed to work with city staff on education and to prepare a do-not-feed ordinance.

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