Urban Deer Harvest Appears Complicated by Rules

Updated 38 weeks ago by Tony Rutherford HuntingtonNews.Net Reporter

Thinning Huntington’s urban deer population by archery hunters came before Huntington City Council’s public safety meeting Wednesday afternoon.  A representative of the Department of Natural Resources explained the complex procedures for implementing this option of cutting down deer racing into the city limits.

Kim Shaw, a District Five DNR biologist, explained that other West Virginia municipalities have been successful with using a limited urban hunt subject to regulations put in place by a city.

However, local hunters and those impacted by deer overpopulation , will not be able to shooting the wild animals in 2013. Shaw explained that an application must be sent to the state in March. Should Huntington choose to continue with this option, the first opportunity for in city hunters would be next year’s deer season.

Prior to the discussion, Mayor Steve Williams, who was on his way to Charleston, reasserted that his office takes no position on the urban hunt, leaving the decision solely in council’s hands.

Shaw’s presentation indicated that while such ordinances have been successfully initiated in South Charleston and Charleston, they include a complex set of regulations and often an archery safety training course.

One complication surfaced --- what happens if a deer is shot in a permitted area, but it wonders onto private property?  Shaw explained that the Hunter would have to obtain permission to remove the injured animal from private property.

“The first person that hits a deer must follow up on retrieving the wounded animal,” Shaw explained.. “You can’t trespass on private property” to obtain the wounded deer.

Tis scenario appeared on a conflict collision course. The Huntington Museum of Art has stated that it will absolutely not permit hunting on its property. While adjacent areas might be subject to hunters, if the city were to permit.

“The Museum would benefit from hunting on other properties,” Shaw said, stressing “written permission” is necessary for private property.

Some cities require that hunters check in their harvest with the city police department.

Council member Frances Jackson and Ball  inquired about prohibitions against feeding deer.

The DHR representative said citizens feeding scraps to deer “is not good for the animal.” However, he told of uncertain enforcement, citing an elderly woman in Charleston who despite regulations has brought in large quantities of food for deer and bears.

Although Ball, who at council adamantly opposed a hunt in Huntington’s parks, did not rule out the proposal, the complicated state regulations for setting up a hunt likely will have members doing hard thinking before bringing a proposed ordinance to the full council.

Ball said of the urban Huntington proposal, “we’ll reconvene [on this topic] before March,” noting that many rules and regulations must be complied. He said 70% of phone calls received oppose the proposal.

Shaw explained that  homeowners associations can apply to DHR for a hunt, but if they are within a city limits, the municipality determines whether to implement a hunt.

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