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Portage police officers may be used to combat deer encroachment.

City Administrator Shawn Murphy told city budget-makers this week to expect a proposal to buy equipment and acquire permits and certifications necessary to allow city personnel to act as sharpshooters to control the local deer population.

Common Council members have been grappling with the issue for years, especially at the Portage Municipal Airport. Periodically, the city has hired sharpshooters to harvest deer from stands in city parks and on other city land at night.

Instead of hiring sharpshooters, the city may contract with Police Department employees, via an addition to the employees’ union agreement, to trade the hours worked for compensation time.

Murphy said the officers could be certified as sharpshooters by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources could issue a permit for the special hunt.

The city would also have to purchase a deer stand and a gun silencer. Exact figures on the city’s costs have not yet been presented, but Murphy said he thinks the city can remove deer for less than half the cost of hiring sharpshooters.

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The sharpshooters were paid about $100 per deer killed.

Murphy said the police officers could harvest up to 100 deer per year.

Common Council members on the city’s Finance and Administration Committee did not weigh in on the merit of the proposal at their Monday meeting.

Several Council members have said deer encroachment is an issue that needs to be addressed. Airport officials have noted that it is a liability issue for pilots trying to land on runways, which are regularly overrun by deer and other wildlife.

Funding for a deer eradication program has not been incorporated in early drafts of the 2015 city budget, nor was it included in a draft of the Municipal Services Department budget Monday.

It will need to be added down the road if Council members choose to endorse it for implementation next year. Or it could find money in the 2014 city budget to carry out deer kills sooner.

(5) comments

Tim Raimer

The police union will not let them shoot for nothing. It will be at the overtime rate.
Fences don't work unless you want to but up a 15' fence around Portage. Maybe you old guys instead of bitching can show that you can do it, safely. The thing that was found to work as the sharpshooters. But the deer will comeback. When you expand in their area of course they will come back into it. The whole area is deer country.
Look at the expense they have caused in damage to what it cost to shoot them. That's not even near close.
Leave the deer alone, the City is going let bow hunters shoot in town. See what that does in a couple of years before making any new programs.

Or quit expanding development into "deer territory".

Bill Irwin

Or $10k for a good fence... not sure, think it might cost a little more. Maybe if you amortized the cost over a few years without sharpshooters...

D McGee

Seriously? More "stop gap" measures? We haven't learned yet that if the habitat is there the deer will ALWAYS return? If you need confirmation, call the DNR and ask them about their eradication efforts... Which is less expensive in the long run and more effective at SOLVING the problem; building a fence that will require minimal maintenance and keep 99.9% of the deer out, or sharpshooting into perpetuity with far less efficiency at keeping deer out?

don wan

$100,000 would buy a really nice fence.....and those work for free.

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