Monday, March 30, 2009

VIRGINIA NEWS: Wytheville Struggles with Deer Population

Wytheville’s deer population has been reduced since mid-February. It is expected to decline even more by the end of March.

According to Col. Harry Ayers of the Wytheville Police Department, approximately 46 deer have been shot and killed within the town limits since the town obtained a special permit from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. State authorization began in mid-February and continues through March 31.

Complaints from Wytheville residents about problems caused by the increasing deer population prompted Wytheville Town Council to take action last summer. Citizens reported giving up their gardens because of crop damage by deer and others complained about deer damage to their flowers and trees.

Council authorized the town’s director of public safety Albert Newberry to obtain a state permit to kill the deer.

Newberry coordinated the effort with the town’s animal control officer Bill Scott. Scott is being accompanied by a town policeman or a paid town fireman on the evening hunts across Wytheville.

Under the cover of night and armed with a silencer-equipped rifle, Scott stakes out areas of town where there is a large deer population. He takes his shots and moves to another location.

“Even with a silencer,” Col. Ayers noted, “when you shoot one deer the shot scares the others off. That’s why you have to move on to another spot.”

The dead deer, Ayers said, are picked up where they’re killed. The carcasses are taken to the Wythe-Bland Joint Public Service Authority’s transfer station, the colonel stated.

A spokesman for the transfer station confirmed the deer carcasses are put in the trailer with the rest of the trash. She said they are taken to Johnson City, Tenn., for burial.

“We were going to give the meat to the Hunters for the Hungry,” Col. Ayers said, “but the cost of field dressing the deer and hauling it made it impossible for us to do.”

According to Col. Ayers, there have been a few complaints about shooting the deer. The harvest, he said, is being conducted late at night and as far away from homes as possible.
“We’ve had one or two complaints,” he said.

While Ayers said the deer harvesting has eased problems somewhat, he expects another permit will be needed. Ayers pointed out February and March are best times to eliminate the deer.

“Getting rid of the deer is not going to happen in one year,” he said. “Deer continues to be a problem. We’ve lost two police cars to deer and we averaged three deer-related accidents a week for awhile earlier this year.”

Ayers blames the increased deer population on the lack of hunters, more posted land and no natural predators of deer. He also noted Wytheville is surrounded by mountains with the deer roaming into various subdivisions looking for food.

Source: WSLS10