Dalton deer drawing danger

Residents claim animals are drawing predators

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DALTON GARDENS - The local deer population has a long history of damaging gardens and flowers in Dalton Gardens, and now residents are complaining that coyotes and cougars are coming to prowl yards, looking to kill.

The Dalton Gardens City Council heard from multiple residents at its meeting late last week, following sightings of the predators.

The crowd at the council meeting also demanded that city officials take some sort of action to reduce the deer population. The residents said they're tired of just talk from the council.

Les Likes, who lives on 15th Street, presented photographs to the city council of a dead deer which was apparently taken down by a predator and had been partially consumed.

Likes also presented pictures of a coyote moving through a neighbor's yard.

He criticized the city for not addressing the "deer problem," which he said has led to this new, more dangerous situation.

"This is much more significant, a public safety issue, than some deer eating my flowers and such," said Likes, who grows corn in the city.

"We did quite a bit of dialogue last week" about the city's deer population, Mayor Dan Franklin told Likes and others in attendance Thursday night.

The mayor told City Planner Cheri Howell to inform those in attendance where the city currently stands on the issue.

Howell said the city is working on a deer strategy with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, and considering both a deer population survey and a do-not-feed ordinance. Additionally, the city is looking at whether it can "allow some type of paintball guns in regards to that as a deterrent," she said.

"We've drafted a do-not-feed-the-deer ordinance, and we're waiting on Fish and Game and the county sheriff's office to give us feedback" on how enforceable it would be, Howell said.

Neighbors complained about more coyotes howling at night, and one neighbor said she was concerned wolves might follow.

Resident Tom Dickerson said he has seen a cougar twice behind his home on Mt. Carrol Street.

"I've warned all the people around who have little kids, to let them know it ain't safe at night," Dickerson told the council.

Former Dalton Gardens mayoral candidate Robert Romero, who lives on Davenport Street, said he isn't surprised by the presence of predators like coyotes and cougars.

"We have infant deer, we have old deer, we have injured deer running around this town," said Romero, who is an attorney in Coeur d'Alene. "A person would be an idiot to not think there's going to be predators following that."

Others described the deer population problem as an "epidemic."

"Nowadays there's like, 12 running through our back acreage," one woman said. "It needs to be addressed more as an epidemic."

Franklin said he has challenged the council to come up with a "definitive plan" to take some action - or not - regarding the deer population.

"Our constituents have a right to know what direction" the city will be going in, Franklin said.

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