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Residents express concern over deer population

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TWC News: Residents express concern over deer population
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Leon Whitney has lived in Northwest Austin for decades. He and others are trying to figure out how to deal with the familiar and often intrusive sight.

At a special meeting at Austin City Hall Thursday night, North Austin residents heard from an expert with the U.S. Humane Society and called for a revised deer feeding ordinance.

Deer may blend right into the background, but residents like Whitney say these deer are making no attempt to hide.

"They used to run when they would see humans come out to pick up the paper, and now, they’ve gotten so used to us and our dogs that they just ignore us," Whitney said.

A wildlife expert from the U.S. Humane Society spoke on the issue during Thursday's special Austin Animal Advisory Commission meeting.

"It is a very common scenario. We are getting a lot of phone calls about deer damage to gardens, people’s concerns about deer car collision, about deer attacks to their pets," Humane Society spokesperson Laura Simon said. "The simplest tip is to realize we're going to have to live with deer, so we are going to have to change our behavior. Plant something that is different from what we are used to. Maybe use some replants or fencing because we can live with deer."

Some on the Austin Animal Advisory Commission, however, say regulations are not the answer.

"We would prefer to go with helping people solve their problems individually in lieu of trying to strengthen the ordinance which we don't think would work," Austin Animal Advisory Commission spokesperson David Lundstedt said.

The city isn't proposing a quick fix, but hopes education will be the key to keeping the deer out of neighborhoods. It's illegal to feed deer within Austin's city limits. The Animal Advisory Commission says only a handful of citations have been given out.

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