Group petitioning against deer-feeding ban in Granite Shoals

JENNIFER FIERRO • STAFF WRITER

GRANITE SHOALS — A Granite Shoals group wants residents to have the final say in whether they can feed deer after the city council recently adopted a “no deer feeding” ordinance.

The Granite Shoals Citizens’ Advisory Group has collected 81 signatures on a petition calling for a referendum by voters on the ordinance. The initiative could work its way onto the November ballot.

The group’s executive secretary, Michael Steenbergen, said members have two issues with the ordinance.

The first is the amount of fines that will be issued after the grace period ends Sept. 12. During a 12-month period, residents who are in violation of the ban will receive a warning on the first offense; a $50 fine on the second offense; a $200 fine on the third, fourth and fifth offenses; and a $1,000 fine on the sixth offense.

“They went too far,” Steenbergen said of the council’s fines. “I was in support of the ban because I understand the issue. The penalty structure was punitive and unnecessary. It puts citizens in stocks.”

He noted several council members stated the ordinance had to have “teeth” to it so residents would follow it.

That’s why speed limits are set and enforced, he added.

But, he said, driving over the speed limit could lead to an accident and a much larger consequence than feeding deer.

The council adopted the deer-feeding ban as part of its overall plan to address the white-tailed deer population in the city. Officials pointed out that having a high concentration of deer in the city leads to poor health for the animals from disease and lack of quality food. Feeders, officials said, cause deer to congregate and allow for the easier transmission of diseases and parasites.

What Steenbergen’s group wants instead is an annual fee system in place in which residents can feed deer at $25 or pay $75 to use a larger bin.

“We’ll use all that money to educate people about urbanization,” the secretary said.

The group’s second issue with the ban, according to Steenbergen, is members aren’t convinced the city exhausted all available solutions.

Steenbergen added that a large-property owner east of Granite Shoals told him he proposed constructing a deer fence on the east side of the city to leaders, and he and the city would split the cost. But the property owner told Steenbergen that city leaders haven’t responded to the offer.

“You must control the perimeter in an area like ours,” he said. “I don’t have a solution for the west side.”

Deer fencing is part of the maintenance phase suggested by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department after an initial reduction phase is implemented. That reduction should be at least 50 percent of the current population, according to the organization, because anything less than that percentage “typically (doesn’t) provide significant relief from density-related problems.”

Granite Shoals is utilizing a bowhunting program this fall to try and bring down the number of white-tailed deer within city limits. Residents applied to be part of the program and must undergo written and field tests. Once chosen, bow hunters will be allowed to hunt deer in specific locations within the city when deer season begins this fall.

Deer fencing restricts the ingress of additional deer and gains more control over the deer herd, according to reports. But deer managers should have long-term deer management plans in place before initiating deer herd reduction operations, according to reports.

With at least 50 signatures on the petition, city staff told the council during its regular meeting July 26 there’s a possibility a November ballot item will be required. The deadline to submit the petition is Aug. 25. If the deadline is met, staff members have 21 days to verify the petition and two council meetings for members to take action.

The Granite Shoals Citizens’ Advisory Group’s mission “is to increase citizen participation in local government through awareness, education and engagement.”

While the group agrees something needs to be done about the deer population, they don’t believe a no-feeding ordinance will solve the issue, Steenbergen said.

Rather, the group would like to see deer fencing installed in parts of the city, he said.

Steenbergen noted that he saw 15 deer on his way home and another 10 deer on his way back to a neighbor’s house for dinner recently.

“Something has to be done,” he said. “They were healthy looking deer to me. They weren’t running from cars. It’s a tremendously high population for me to see that many deer.”

jfierro@thepicayune.com

6 thoughts on “Group petitioning against deer-feeding ban in Granite Shoals

  1. The deer feeding ban was enacted after a long period of study, citizen input, and recommendations by a committee setup specifically for the purpose of studying the issue. This all came about because of citizen outcry over the apparent overpopulation of deer.

    Steenbergen lost the election for city council and has now made it his mission in life to make everything difficult for the city. This special election he’s calling for will cost the city thousands of dollars to put on a ballot. A ridiculous waste of money that accomplishes nothing more than feed Steenbergen’s ego and narcissism.

    1. There has been an additional citizens outcry over the fines and the current ordinance and the cost of a referendum election is $600 or free depending on timing to add this to ballot. Please check the minutes of city council meetings for more accurate information.

  2. Steenbergen is a rebel looking for a cause to get his name front of the public. He says he is concerned about our rights but I believe his main concern is to try and get on the city council. His number one contribution to the city has been disruption and controversy. He feels jilted for losing the election and still bills himself “Michael Steenbergen for Granite Shoals City Council” in ALL of his postings and literature. I concur with the other Old Goat that the main beneficiary is his ego and narcissism. As far as “contributions” to the city, aggravation seems to be Number One. Using Occupy Democrats tactics really doesn’t play well in Granite Shoals. Everyone knows that he is a shameless self promoter except the band he has misled. There too many deer in town and something has to be done, even if it is drastic. I have considered standing in my front yard with a handful of corn and a ball pein hammer! The deer are beginning to look ragged and it seems that every doe just dropped twins. That means more deer next year. Time to do something, seriously, besides politicking.

  3. I’ve been here over thirty years…Deer population should have been controlled a long time ago, however, i am totally against any kind of feeding ban and fines….Our city leaders have overstepped the citizens desires for a long time as well…there are more important issues that need to be addressed as well…ie , the new fencing . storage shed . carport . just to name a few. it seems we the people are not in control of our own property….the cities vision for the future is not the same as the citizens themselves… and there in .. lies the problem….so i am behind the citizens action committee …. you didn’t start where id a wanted…..so don’t stop there…….what my neighbor does with his property is none of my concern….or the cities other than very few common sense restrictions

  4. The city council of Granite Shoals has a long history of not doing what is right for the city. People run for council to pass their own agenda. They spend million in the new city hall. Then had to spend almost $1 million dollar to fix plumbing and electrical. This ordinance is not good for the city and will be very hard if not impossible to enforce. We already have criminals in DC. It’s time we stand against tyranny in Granite Shoals!!! It’s our city, paid for with our taxes. We are in charge not the city council. They work for US!!!

  5. We NEED this ban, there is no purpose in feeding the deer. They are wild animals and can take care of themselves. It is our fault they are over populated and suffering because of our antics. The fines are in place to show how important it is to stop feeding them. If anyone wants to make their yard more deer friendly they can cultivate a deer friendly landscape and still help them without supporting the over feeding movement. These people that are against this ban aren’t going to pay for the damage to cars that are being wreaked because of the over population, and other negative effects the over population will cause.

    It is extremely sad and poor taste what the “Leader” of this movement has done, paying for facebook ads all because of feeding the deer? The little amount of signatures he received does not show city majority. Granite Shoals has many items on the City Councils agenda that actually need attention and movements behind them from Roads to Water. This deer feeding ban isn’t one of them. The organizer of this movement had the audacity to compare this ban to the atomic bomb. It’s no wonder he didn’t win his seat on the council. If he actually cared about this city he would be putting his efforts into more important issues.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *