The city of Lakeway has been trapping deer to help control the population for nearly 20 years. However, a video is going viral that has some residents asking the city to stop.
A Lakeway homeowner shot the video when she realized deer were being trapped just feet from her back yard.
“My daughter ran in and she said, ‘Mommy, Mommy, come quick! They’re hurting the deer!’” said Ashlea Beck. “I got to my back door, and I looked over and I noticed that the net was down on the ground, and there were little bundles moving around.”
Beck says when she ran over to the net, she saw men trying to untangle several deer caught inside, so she began recording.
“You could hear the screaming of the deer, and, I mean, it was very evident that they were hurt by the sounds that they were making,” Beck said. “As soon as I put the phone down is when I actually got close enough to the deer, to their faces, and I saw one of them had blood filling up in its mouth. Another one had blood coming down from its eye.”
Lakeway city manager Steve Jones says trapping the deer isn’t as inhumane as Beck’s video would make it seem. He says the deer are in shock when they’re netted.
Jones says the city uses a special permit from the state to cut down on the deer population. According to Jones, trappers used to relocate the animals to ranches and even Mexico. However, as the deer population has swelled in Texas, Jones says there’s nowhere to take them anymore, and the city has no choice but to send them to a slaughter house, then give their meat to local charities.
“It’s not one of those things that you want to know that that’s going on in your neighborhood, much less your backyard”, Beck said.
The mother of three says she and her neighbors weren’t aware the deer were being taken to be slaughtered, rather than being caught and released.
“When I talked to the city manager, she said, “I asked him how many of them are relocated, and he said, ‘None, they’re all sent to be processed.’ And so that was when I just felt sick, because I did not realize that until that moment.”
Beck says she questions whether trapping and killing the deer is necessary, however she asks that if it is, that it be done away from neighborhoods.
“If it does have to go on, we ask that it be done away from families, away from homes,” she said. “I think most of us here try to reach our kids to be respectful of wildlife and animals, and for them to see that, and then for them to see that it’s no big deal, this is what we do, that’s confusing for kids.”
Jones told KXAN he wishes trapping and processing the deer wasn’t necessary. However, he says it’s imperative to keep the deer population down. During the last deer season (October 2016-March 2017), the city says there were 90 vehicle crashes involving deer–the most ever in the city of Lakeway. Prior years hovered around 30-50 crashes involving deer, respectively.
Texas Parks and Wildlife issues the trapping permits and allows municipalities to trap October through March. However, Jones says Lakeway usually only traps deer once a week January through March.
Over the past 10 years, Jones says on average, Lakeway traps about 115 deer a year. He says even though this season, the city had a permit to trap 250, the city only netted and put down 99. Jones says Lakeway’s trapping efforts just wrapped up for the year.