Wednesday, November 21, 2007

NORTH CAROLINA NEWS: Town Residents Petition for Urban Deer Hunt

People in Eden are asking city officials to take a controversial step to help thin the deer population.

Some say the animals are becoming a nuisance and a hazard in urban areas, particularly for drivers.

Homeowners and garden club members in the Oaks subdivision in south central Eden think a bow-hunting season could help curb the number of deer that destroy landscaping and cause traffic problems.

The petition was spearheaded by Janis Davis, who said she is fed up with her yard on Laurel Wood Drive being a buffet for deer.

"It is frustrating to know you've planted things in your yard and you have no control over what they eat," Davis said.

The group cites heavy development in the area, once woodlands, as the cause of the wandering deer. In the past 20 years, developers built two shopping centers, two apartment complexes, a church, a hospital facility and the 48-home subdivision.

The N.C. Wildlife Resource Commission estimates more than 45 deer per square mile in Rockingham County east of Wentworth, including Reidsville and Eden. The commission estimates 30 to 45 deer per square mile west of Wentworth along the county's southern border.

Davis tried dozens of deterrents before arriving at bow hunting. She said she tried all manner of store-bought and home remedies with no success.

"I have been on the Internet and made this terrible-smelling egg stuff you're supposed to spray on your plants to stop them from eating them, but it didn't work," she said.

Fences work, Davis said, but the homeowners association does not allow them. What's more, she really doesn't want a fence.

Davis and her neighbors want the city to file for a special deer-hunting season, allowing permitted hunters to hunt within the city limits using a bow and arrows.
Nearby Danville, Va., adopted a similar ordinance two years ago. Permitted hunters there can kill deer on their property or property in which the owner has granted them permission to hunt. Hunters must be at least 10 feet off the ground from their target, and their arrow must not leave the property on which they are hunting. Hunters cannot fire an arrow across any public right of way, such as a street or sidewalk, nor can they fire an arrow toward a building.

Danville Deputy City Manager M. Lyle Lacy III said residents wanted the hunting season for the same reason advocates in Eden are looking at it - safety and landscaping.

"Those two things together, the former more so than the latter, because it was putting lives in danger, prompted us to put in place the ordinance," Lacy said.
Lacy said the program is still too new to know whether it has been a success, but a report is expected in April.

Eden City Manager Brad Corcoran included the petition and Davis' letter in a weekly report to the City Council two weeks ago. But, Corcoran said, he does not intend to include the item on an upcoming city agenda, nor has a council member instructed him to.

Corcoran, who lives in The Oaks, said he often sees deer in his backyard. He agreed it was a nuisance but said people who live close to woods have to expect it. A hunter himself, Corcoran said he is not comfortable with the idea of an urban hunting season.

"While there's a lot of good hunters and safety-minded hunters, you still hear about a lot of accidents," he said.

The idea does not sit well with Eden Police Chief Gary Benthin, either. Although the issue is not a police matter, Corcoran said he conferred with the chief on the issue because of the safety concerns. Benthin said he believes it is "terribly unsafe to hunt in the city limits."

Benthin also questions arguments about deer affecting traffic safety in the city.
"The original complaint I heard months ago was the deer were eating shrubbery. I really don't consider that a safety concern," he said.

Lacy said Danville police have not received any reports of hunting accidents in the city since the policy was adopted.

"The conditions we have in the permit-granting address that," he said.
Davis said she understands the concerns the city and some of her neighbors have about the safety issues. She said she shares many of those same concerns but still believes the hunting season could help - with the proper limitations.

Davis said she does not have plans to press the council on the issue until she has done more research on how other communities are handling the issue.
"I'm really just looking for some help here," she said.

As for her landscaping, Davis said she has learned what not to plant - pansies, for example - which, she says, deer love.

"They won't eat cactus," she said with a chuckle.


INDIANA NEWS: Overabundant Deer Prompt Culling, Park Closings

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources plans to temporarily close 18 state parks, including Fort Harrison State Park in Indianapolis, and one nature preserve in the coming weeks for deer hunts.

The parks and nature preserve will be closed Nov. 26-27 and Dec. 10-11.

The DNR says the deer populations have grown too large for the areas to support them and maintain an ecological balance.

The parks to be closed are Chain O'Lakes, Charlestown, Clifty Falls, Fort Harrison, Harmonie, Indiana Dunes, Lincoln, McCormick's Creek, Ouabache, Pokagon, Potato Creek, Shades, Shakamak, Spring Mill, Tippecanoe River, Turkey Run, Versailles and Whitewater Memorial. The Twin Swamps Nature Preserve near Evansville will also be closed.