When I was growing up in Northwest Montana, my family got a lot of visitors during the summer months. Out-of-state friends and family members were always amazed at the abundance of wild flora and fauna in our neighborhood. They could not get over the fact that there were deer — real, live deer! — grazing in the back yard.

In most Montana cities — including Missoula — it is not uncommon to see urban deer wandering through parks, golf courses and neighborhoods. They’ve never really bothered me. In fact, I think it’s kind of cool that they live among us. I even know some people who have named the deer that hang out on their property.

Apparently, not all Missoula residents have such an amicable attitude toward our four-legged friends. According to a recent Missoulian article, the city council is considering implementing a program to control the deer population within city limits following numerous complaints that urban deer are not only a nuisance, but also a safety hazard.

I can sympathize with the nuisance part — in a secondhand sort of way, at least. Every year, my mom works hard to fill her garden with beautiful flowers. And every year, the deer somehow find a way to eat those flowers, despite her efforts to keep them away.

Safety wise, I will admit to hitting the brakes for deer in the road on a handful of occasions, but no more than I have on rural highways. And in my neighborhood, I’ve definitely had way more stray cats run in front of my car than urban deer.

Whatever happens, I hope we never see a day when deer are completely absent from Missoula’s landscape. I would definitely miss them, and I’m sure all of those East Coast tourists would, too.

Brooke is a 2010 graduate of The University of Montana, where she ran track and cross country for the Grizzlies. She is currently working as a writer and editor in Missoula.