HLRGazette Archives

Relive some of our best stories.

  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Letters

E-mail Print PDF
DEER ARMAGEDDON: FACT OR FANTASY
My wife and I have only lived in HLR for a little over a year, but I'd like to respectfully
offer some comments on the" deer issue". One of the main reasons we purchased our
home here was because ofthe abundant wildlife-especially the deer. Our daughter and
son-in-law also purchased a weekend home here at the same time, and for the same
reason(s). We are native Texans but had been living in the Colorado mountains for
several years in a Pikes Peak area subdivision similar to HLR. We decided to move back
home after I developed some health issues and to escape the long, brutal winters. We had
an HOA there also and it was unfortunately beset with many legal and divisive
community conflicts stemming from the HOA's continual attempts to enforce some
unpopular and controversial rules-not regarding wildlife, but regarding other relatively
benign issues dealing with parking of RVs, land use, etc. This was our first experience in
living in an HOA administered community.
When we decided to move back to east Texas, I swore I'd never again live in a
community that has an HOA. However, my better half found the "little house of her
dreams" in HLR so, you know how that goes. We've both grown very fond ofHLR and
especially our great neighbors, the lakes and overall natural beauty of the area. I've been
an avid hunter (including deer) all of my adult life, but at age 71 have grown to enjoy
coexisting with the animals-including feeding the deer, squirrels and birds so, I've
become very concerned at the prospect of being cited (and subsequently fined to the tune
of$150.) for feeding the deer on my own PRIVATE PROPERTY. I'm a veteran of35
years of active law enforcement (retired as a Captain from Dallas PD after 25 years
service and also served as a sheriff's deputy for 10 years at that department in VanZandt
County). Let me inject at this point, I intend to comply with the no deer feeding rule
come it's effective date o~ Jan. 1, 2010.
I have a lot of respect and appreciation for our HLR Security force and the excellent job
they do keeping our roads, homes and property safe and secure. I don't however, envy
the position the HOA Board has put them in by requiring them to become the
"environmental police" by deciding what "feeding the deer" means and to determine
what a "deer feeder" is or is not. For example, if I fill my squirrel feeder with sunflower
seeds and the squirrels knock some to the ground and those seeds are subsequently eaten
by a deer, am I guilty of "feeding the deer"? Ditto for my bird feeders as well. Also,
what about those folks who feed bread to the geese on the eastside entry area pond?
I contacted a gentleman on the HLR board, who appears to be taking a leading role on the
"deer problem" resolution. He was very courteous and attempted to address my voiced
concerns, but was unable to give any specifics on what remedial actions other Texas
communities with similar deer issues had were taking to address the problem. He
continually cited Texas Parks and Wildlife Dept. mandates as the impetus for actions
being taken by the Board. He also said his projection was that the deer population, in the
absence of a large scale and immediate removal of animals, would soar to "5,000 deer"
"within one year from now" and that HLR habitat would be "destroyed" as a result. He
cited his observation of a similar problem in Indiana as his rational for this dire
projection. I also asked him for the legal justification for fining residents for activities on
their own property as the bylaws for HLR only allude to fining for infractions on
"common" and "public" areas (such as parks, lakes and streets). He responded by saying
that the Board's legal counsel had given the Board "verbal approval" to enact the fining
aspect of the change in rules. I asked this member if the Board had considered the likely
negative publicity potential should HLR commence the slaughter (see "harvest" and other
more PC terms) oflarge numbers of deer- and he answered in the affirmative. I also
raised the possibility that large scale local and perhaps national bad publicity could
negatively impact our property values and he said that "habitat destruction would have
the same effect." As said earlier, he was courteous but I came away from both
conversations with him feeling that his mind was already made up and my comments
were headed for "file 13".
I too attended the recent Texas Parks and Wildlife resident briefing. I've always thought
my hearing was 20-20, but apparently didn't hear what the Board member heard them
say. The P&W folks did say we need to "quit feeding the deer" ifthey were going to
"help" us further in addressing this issue. However, I didn't hear them commit to
anything specific nor commit to any funding forthcoming from P&W for anything. The
Board member did tell me that the Board had had "other meetings" with P&W personnel
but didn't specify what was discussed in those meetings.
I do concede that we may, in fact, have too many deer on HLR property and I don't have
a definitive solution given the limited data that's been distributed by the Board. I do
recommend a suspension ofthe feeding fine, and distribution/discussion in open resident
forum format of what other like communities have done to remedy this problem. Why the
hurry to reduce the deer herd? They've been here for years and, I'll bet, predate residency
by most ofthe humans who've decided to make HLR their home. The options for remedy
range from doing nothing and leaving the solution to Mother Nature to the other extreme
with total eradication of the deer.
On a lighter note: I recently saw 8 raccoons in my yard one evening. They are known to
occasionally carry rabies. Also what about the pesky skunks, possums, and, of course, the
destructive armadillos. What about the reputed 12 foot alligator that lives in our big lake
and possibly imperils water skiers and swimmers. Also an unlucky friend of mine did

get nipped on the thumb by an aggressive squirrel. This is the country folks- not
Disneyland. There are perils everywhere. The deer also occasionally dine on my roses
and other imported plants, however I daily see beautiful, landscaped yards in HLR. I
suppose that given my choice, I'd rather be gored by a rutting deer (another one of the
reasons I've heard for getting rid of the deer) than dispatched by a gun-toting mugger up
Dallas way (where no deer roam). But hey, that's just me.
Thanks for letting my small voice have a forum. The comments/opinions listed herein are
my own and are submitted with sincere concern for the rights/opinions of all of us.
Don Milliken, HLR resident

(Letter from the Neals on Sonora)
Holly Lake Ranch - the natural beauty of this East Texas forest has been preserved and development has been planned to blend with the environment. Each season has its own unique beauty at Holly Lake Ranch. Early spring brings the dogwood trees and
wildflowers, which offer breathtaking vistas. In summer, the lush green forest provides a
wondrous back drop for the crystal-clear, springfed lakes. Fall produces scenery that is
a painter's dream with shades of yellow, orange, red, and brown amongst the green
pines. Winter has its own charm, especially when a blanket of snow covers the ground.
Yes this is how Holly Lake Ranch is described on the internet. There are also several
pictures of wildlife including deer standing on lawns and children petting them. Sounds
like a perfect place to live, right.
This is why I decided to write in to express my opinion and thoughts on the deer over-
population.
First of all the deer were living in this area long before we were. Builders came in and
built large homes on large pieces of property and we bought them. What is the problem
with some wildlife wandering through every now and then? To blame and slaughter the
deer for human encroachment is both malicious and unjustified.
I have just learned of a disturbing plan to deal with the deer over-population by
slaughtering the deer. This Cull will involve luring the deer to slaughter by baiting them
with food. Once the deer arrive to feed, they will be annihilated. Although this proposal is
inherently cruel based on its premise alone, it is important to recognize it is based on
erroneous information and according to human-engineered circumstances. As such, it is
imperative that alternative, non-lethal methods be employed to amend the deer over-
population as defined by biased homeowners and residents using propaganda, hysteria,
grossly exaggerated and even false claims.
Killing deer would artificially increase food supplies to the remaining deer, the
consequence of which would be increased reproduction and an even greater deer
population. Additionally, as has been illustrated previously during large deer culls or
prolonged hunting periods, only the strongest and most physically hearty deer would be
attracted to a baited food source, and if the survival of the fittest cannot be guaranteed,
this plan is fundamentally flawed.
Animals are sentient creatures, capable oflove, fear, pain, and suffering. As humans do,
animals experience these emotions and have the desire to live free from exploitation and
mass slaughter. I ask that you please consider your potential participation in this cruel
plan. Please instead examine alternative options such as fencing and fertility control. As
intelligent people capable of sound conclusions, you should recognize the importance of
life over the inaccuracies and exaggerations of unscrupulous people.
I do consider myself an animal lover so I am sure that is why I feel this way, but Ijust
wanted to express my opinion of a situation that seems unfair to the animals that keep
watching their living space shrink while ours grows.

Please Don't Spoil the Beauty of Holly Lake!
The Neals
149 Sonora