Dozens show support for suspending controversial deer population control program at Lakeway City Council

Dozens of Lakeway citizens attended the Lakeway City Council meeting Monday night.

Dozens of Lakeway citizens attended the Lakeway City Council meeting Monday night.

Lakeway City Council suspended a controversial deer population control program during its City Council meeting Monday, and an impassioned crowd of dozens of area residents in attendance erupted in applause following the unanimous decision.

Lakeway’s Wildlife Advisory Committee discussed the future of its deer management plan Aug. 9, at which time the body recommended a temporary pause on its Trap, Transport and Process program for an unspecified amount of time.

The trap program was a city initiative that sought to control Lakeway’s deer population and donated the resulting meat to nonprofit charities. Over the past several months, city officials have heard from many residents both for and against the controversial program but ultimately decided to halt its operation for one year, until Aug. 20, 2019.

The decision comes in the wake of an ongoing residential debate about the ethical implications regarding the city’s deer population control methods. But the public outpouring Monday night was more one-sided, as several people voiced their concerns about cruelty toward the animals.

During discussion of the agenda item, several attendees pleaded with city officials to either suspend or end the program.

Nikki Prather, a state director for the Humane Society of the United States, addressed the council and said the program is neither humane nor effective for the management of wildlife.

“Just because a control method reduces the population, that doesn’t mean that it’s justified, ethical or appropriate,” Prather said following her request that the council uphold the Wildlife Advisory Committee’s recommended suspension of the trap program.

Other citizens addressing the City Council implored the body to get more data before making a decision affecting wildlife control policy.

Lakeway City Councilmember Dwight Haley agreed that more data is needed before the city moves forward with another plan and requested those wanting an end to the program to attend wildlife committee meetings.

“I’ve talked to two or three wild game biologists… and all of them told me they thought it was very important for Lakeway to back up for a while,” Haley said.

City leaders need to gather accurate information pertaining to the deer population, as well as establish an effective dialogue with the citizens of Lakeway, Haley said.

“The reality of it is there has been very little communicating going on within this framework of this city on the deer, and we really need to focus on that,” he said.

CIty documents state that $43,950 of the fiscal year 2019 budget had been earmarked for its deer management program, the bulk of which was reserved to pay for the program.

In the coming months city officials will discuss more specifically how to proceed with data gathering and citizen engagement regarding the Lakeway deer population.

In other city council activity:

New boat docks are no longer restricted by 100-foot rule


Boat owners in Lakeway may now set up new boat docks a little closer to each other.

City Council removed a 2011 city code amendment stating that “new boat docks shall not be permitted if they will be [located] less than 100 feet from existing boat docks.”

The adjustment in 2011 was meant to address overcrowding during times when lake levels are low, according to city documents.

Other provisions within the city code already sufficiently address overcrowding in the lake, City Manager Steve Jones said. The motion to remove the amendment passed unanimously.

New Lakeway Police Department facility is on schedule


A representative for SpawGlass, a contractor building the new Lakeway Police Department facility located on an extension of Lohmans Spur Road off Lohmans Crossing Road, reported that the project is 56 percent complete and on pace to be completed by early 2019.

The 31,000-square-foot, $23 million facility will contain space for police administration, patrol, dispatch, criminal investigation divisions and support services as well as a training room, staff and building support, property and evidence rooms, and temporary holding and exercise-training areas, according to city records.

Voters approved the building project in May 2017.
By Brian Rash
Brian has been a reporter and editor since 2012. He wrote about the music scene in Dallas-Fort Worth before becoming managing editor for the Graham Leader in Graham, Texas, in 2013. He relocated to Austin, Texas, in 2015 to work for Gatehouse Media's large design hub. He became the editor for the Lake Travis-Westlake publication of Community Impact in August 2018. From there he became a dual-market editor for Community Impact's New Braunfels and San Marcos-Buda-Kyle editions. Brian is now a senior editor for the company's flagship papers, the Round Rock and Pflugerville-Hutto editions.


MOST RECENT

A rise in COVID-19 cases has Travis County back in stage 4. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Austin reverts to Stage 4 guidelines with rising delta variant cases

As delta variant COVID -19 cases are sending more young people to local ICUs, The Austin-Travis County Health Authority has moved the area back to guidelines that require masks indoors.

The Reserve at Lake Austin is a senior living community under construction off City Park Road in Northwest Austin. (Courtesy Solera Senior Living)
Northwest Austin senior living community looks to January 2022 opening

New complex to have 120 living units and an outdoor memory garden.

Lakeway City Council voted July 19 to amend its budget and accept a grant to restore Liebelt Cabin. (Brian Rash/Community Impact Newspaper)
Restoration of Liebelt Cabin has new source of funding

Grant will reimburse city for repairs made to the historic Liebelt Cabin.

Leander Marketplace PUD would be located at the northeast corner of Hero Way and US 183. (Screenshot courtesy city of Leander)
Leander eyes development with restaurants, retail; Bin Drop opens in New Braunfels and more top Central Texas news

Read the top business and community news from the past week from the Central Texas area.

Dozens of Austin residents spoke virtually and in person July 22 to share their thoughts on the city's proposed fiscal year 2021-22 budget. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Police funding again takes center stage in public hearing on Austin's proposed FY 2021-22 budget

Dozens of city residents calling into or appearing at City Hall on July 22 shared their thoughts about policing and the city's spending plan.

student learning
Leander ISD's virtual learning program exceeds capacity after recent interest

The program waitlist began July 21 with 101 applicants in its first day.

Mortgage purchase applications are down year over year, but the Austin housing market remains hot. (Benton Graham/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin housing market still hot but showing signs of slowing down

Experts say that a decrease in mortgage purchase applications points to “a reversion back to norm” in the Austin housing market.

Peter Lake (left), chair of the Public Utility Commission of Texas, and Brad Jones, interim president and CEO of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, provided an update on state regulators' electric grid redesign efforts in Austin on July 22. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Regulators: Texas electric grid prepared for potentially record-breaking demand next week; 'once-in-a-generation reforms' underway

The heads of the agencies in charge of the Texas electric grid met in Austin on July 22 to provide updates on their grid reform efforts.

The Lake Travis ISD board of trustees reviewed plans for distributing federal COVID-19 relief during a July 21 meeting. (Amy Rae Dadamo/Community Impact Newspaper)
Lake Travis ISD to spend $3M in federal aid to meet students’ academic, emotional needs

Among the stakeholder input, students’ social and emotional health emerged as the top priority for the funding.

Todd Dodge, Westlake High School athletic director and head football coach, announced his retirement the morning of July 22. (Courtesy Westlake Nation)
Todd Dodge, Westlake High School football coach, announces retirement

Dodge—a three-time National High School Coach of the Year recipient—will officially retire from the district at the conclusion of the 2021 football season.

My Steel Magnolia boutique opened in July. (Courtesy West Austin Chamber of Commerce)
Boutique My Steel Magnolia opens in July

My Steel Magnolia is now open in Austin's Four Points region. The boutique offers a variety of apparel, accessory and decor options.