Council to mull legal bow-hunting of deer in town

kjahner@newsobserver.comDecember 24, 2013 

DEER_02

File Photo: Deer roam the backyards of a home in Charlotte. Various towns, including some in the Triangle and Charlotte area, have legalized bow-hunting deer to deal with expanding populations causing accidents and feasting on gardens and flowers.

JOHN D. SIMMONS — THE CHARLOTTE OBSERVER

— The planned Cabela’s that will be built in Garner next year will have an archery range. Next winter, many residents might have a new reason for target practice.

In January the town council will discuss legalizing bow-hunting of deer on private property in town limits -- in-season and with conditions. That discussion, along with discussions on school zone signs and legalizing backyard hens in town limits, will be held on Jan. 23 in a session at 8:30 a.m.

Proponents of urban bow hunting say it’s a good idea because it eliminates pests, provides meat and reduces accidents.

At least 44 North Carolina municipalities allow urban bow hunting. Durham most recently adopted an ordinance in November – coincidentally smack in the middle of deer mating season, the most dangerous time for accidents. According to the Department of Transportation about 90 percent of the state’s 20,181 animal-related crashes (991 in Wake County) in 2012 were deer related. The accidents killed 20 and injured nearly 3,500 statewide.

Councilman Gra Singleton said people keep asking council members when they were going to do something about the deer, known to wreak havoc on yards as well as jump in front of cars.

“They mess up vegetable gardens and they mess up vegetation...it’s just a pest,” Singleton said.

The town would discuss rules based on what it can learn from other counties. Singleton said the town would likely allow the shooter to keep what meat he wants while the rest goes to food pantries, as other municipalities have done. Council will also check with the police department about public safety concerns.

“You aren’t going to let people go around shooting guns,” Singleton said.

In Durham, for example, deer must be shot from a position elevated 10 feet off the ground (so misses end up in nearby soil, not a neighbor or his property in the distance). Hunters must either be the property owner or have written permission, and can only hunt on “areas of consent” totaling at least five acres. Adjacent property owners can band together to create a large-enough tract.

Singleton said he figured the town would stick to the two-acre minimum proposed in Durham before it was increased in a compromise. “If we don’t do something around two acre lot tracts of land, we aren’t going to make any impact around here,” Singleton said.

In addition, Durham hunters can’t shoot arrows within 250 feet of the hunting area’s boundary or within 250 feet of a residence, school, church, business, government property, occupied building, street or recreational area. Hunters also must “make every reasonable effort” to track down the carcass of any deer shot.

A Time Magazine cover article this month featured the passage of the Durham law among others as part of a national trend toward urban hunting. Much wildlife was hunted to near-extinction in many parts of the U.S., but in recent years animals from beavers and feral pigs to deer and bears have flourished – and to levels higher than ideal for humans or even the animals, according to the article.

Conservation efforts in the first half of the 1900s led to hunting restrictions and the strengthening of forestation in the U.S. Humans actually helped by providing feeding troughs via things like garbage to subvert nature’s starvation mechanism for overpopulation, accordin the story. The article also advocates urban hunting, while acknowledging that anti-hunting groups oppose the method of population control. Bow-hunting has also seen opposition on safety grounds. While serious bow accidents happen, it’s typically regarded as safer than other forms as hunting.

Any new allowances would be subject to state hunting law. Regular deer bow-hunting season typically stretches from September to November in the central part of the state. A five-week Urban Archery season allows municipal hunting in January and February.

Jahner: 919-829-4822; Twitter: @garnercleveland

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