HUDSON OAKS — Betty Pennell is a deer lover.
She makes no bones about it, saying having the deer close is one of the highlights of the area. Pennell will even admit she feeds the deer.
It’s the feeding of the normally wild animal that brought about a discussion at Thursday night’s city council meeting. Pennell, a 65-year resident, says the deer were here first, they are not going anywhere and she sees no problem with feeding them.
“My grandkids enjoy the deer, but if there’s a concern, I will stop,” Pennell told the council. “Just because I stop (feeding) doesn’t mean they’ll go away.”
Pennell says one of the neighbors have a deer they’ve named Baby and it will eat out of their hand. Councilman Dan David, who brought the agenda item before the council, says when deer “start behaving in (a domesticated manner), it’s not good.”
David said he was looking for ideas on how to keep the deer from becoming too domestic. He said he had one of the deer follow him from his mailbox nearly into his garage recently.
“We need to educate the public not to feed the deer,” David said. “I have no problem with people putting spin feeders onto areas where there is a lot of acreage, but in some of these residential areas, I want to make sure we’re not getting into an unsafe situation.”
City Administrator Sheri Campbell-Husband said administrators field calls on a regular basis with citizen concerns. She said the city has tried deer crossing signs but they are quickly stolen. She said over the last 12-18 months there has been an increase in deer, which started last summer with people filling small plastic pools with water to give the deer something to drink.
Many times, however, deer will bring other unwanted animals with them.
“If this isn’t dealt with early in the life of a community, it will only get worse, “ Campbell-Husband said.
Joe Byrne, who admits he also enjoys seeing the deer in his yard, says he has seen the deer herd grow in size since he moved here more than two years ago. He says he and his wife enjoy watching the deer mingle with the squirrels and foxes. He suggested contacting an urban biologist to get some solutions to the problem.
Assistant City Administrator Pat Lawler suggested bringing in a game warden from Texas Parks & Wildlife for a town hall-style meeting with residents to discuss the subject and get some solutions.
No time or date has been chosen for such a meeting, but Pennell asked for one thing before a meeting was set.
“I have some deer corn I’d like to get rid of first,” Pennell said.