The Great Dalton Gardens Deer Debate has taken a fatal twist, as someone has been shooting the creatures within city limits and leaving the carcasses where they fall.
Not everybody is sympathetic to Bambi's plight, as expressed by a letter to the editor today and numerous comments on cdapress.com. Frustration with deer infringing upon the hard work and aesthetic pleasures of human inhabitants is boiling over, and someone out there, maybe more than one, has taken matters into his or her own hands.
But in this case, that person is breaking two laws; hunting deer out of season and discharging a weapon within city limits. Poaching is a serious enough offense, but of much greater concern is the sniper's willingness to endanger life of the two-legged variety.
Fish and Game officials believe at least two separate shootings have occurred at night or in the very early morning hours. All the deer - eight, as of this writing - were killed by a small-caliber weapon. Three of the deer were does carrying fawns.
For years, Dalton Gardens residents and officials have struggled to find ways to keep deer and human habitat respectfully separate. In 2011, a proposal was floated to allow hunting within city limits to thin out the deer population, but that was quickly and wisely rejected.
There are better ways to address this, individually and governmentally. Residents can purchase deer repellent products or fencing. Dalton Gardens officials can step up their education campaign and perhaps coordinate efforts with property owners on fencing.
The last thing our community needs is a vigilante emboldened by any form of perceived public support. This person is not a hero; he or she is a menace with impaired judgment who should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
If you have any information that would be helpful in solving these crimes, please call Fish and Game at (208) 769-1414; or, the Citizens Against Poaching (CAP) hotline at (800) 632-5999.