Burnet adopts ordinance against feeding deer due to road safety
JENNIFER FIERRO • STAFF WRITER
BURNET — In an effort to increase road safety, the Burnet City Council adopted an ordinance Feb. 23 that restricts residents from feeding non-domestic animals within 100 feet of public roads.
“Those are things people can get emotional about,” Mayor Gary Wideman said regarding feeding wild animals, particularly deer. “But step back and look at it from a long standpoint.”
The issue was raised when staff members became aware of some Delaware Springs subdivision home owners who were feeding deer at the end of their driveways. The goal is to eliminate that behavior to reduce the number of deer on and near the roadways and lower the risk of deer-vehicle collisions.
“You come around a corner and swerve to miss deer,” Wideman said. “It becomes an issue when you take the same situation and move it outside Delaware Springs.”
So passing a city ordinance made sense to ensure protection for humans and animals alike, he said. After all, the deer must walk to yards near or across busy roads for food.
Human health also was a consideration, the mayor said, pointing out that when someone gets bit by a deer tick, which can lead to lyme disease and other illnesses, residents blame local officials for not being proactive.
“Everybody gets mad because you didn’t do anything about it,” he said.
City staff and council members are planning a workshop at Delaware Springs in the future to show why feeding deer is harmful on many levels that go beyond vehicle collisions.
One of those reasons is the health of the deer. The ingredients in deer corn, which is the popular food residents like to give the animals, isn’t the best thing for them, the mayor said, noting the food is filled with sugar.
“Deer corn is terribly unhealthy for them,” he said. “There’s no nutritional value in what they’re eating.”
And he understands why people feed the deer. There’s little forage available, and residents want to get close up to the animals.
But, the mayor said, residents are able to do that without feeding the deer because herds have grown. Wideman can watch dozens of deer in an empty lot next to his home and said he doesn’t feed them.
“When you try to turn them into pets, that’s a problem from a (residential) standpoint,” he said.
Data presented to city leaders has shown trapping and removing deer hasn’t controlled the population either, Wideman said.