The Times West Virginian

November 11, 2012

Time to consider urban deer hunt in Fairmont?

Times West Virginian

— I’ve come close to hitting a deer while driving home so many times I’ve lost count.

But you see, this doesn’t happen on a country road out in the middle of nowhere. This happens on the East Side in a densely populated neighborhood.

It is not an unusual sight to see several deer grazing in the lots along the I-79 Gateway Connector. In fact, it seemed that for some time, before all the houses were demolished and the construction of the road was complete, one deer moved into our neighborhood for every person who moved out.

And the topic of deer comes up every single times I visit my parents, who live on the West Side close to Fairmont State. Their attempts to grow vegetables are thwarted by Bambi. Some kind of blight took out several of their tomatoes. The others were plucked off the vines just as they were ripe by their friendly neighborhood deer. Heck, they can’t even grow flowers or ground cover without attracting the deer.

And they’ve tried everything. Soap. Special products. Everything short of Dad lying in wait and taking out the deer as they come for chow. Because that’s illegal, as tempted as many home gardeners are.

But what can you do? Well, cities to the north and the south of us host urban deer hunts.

Bridgeport established a hunt two years ago, and the number of deer killed by hunters continues to grow each year, intended to control the population within the city limits. Officials say full impact won’t be evident until after five consecutive years.

The impact for Morgantown’s urban deer hunt was seen almost immediately — it fed the hungry. Within a week of last year’s second deer hunt, archers donated 543 pounds of venison to local shelters and food pantries.

The season runs from Sept. 8 through Dec. 31 for a select number of bow hunters. Division of Natural Resources rules say archers can take seven deer — both bucks and does — within designated hunting areas in urban deer hunts.

But three years later, and the Fairmont City Council really hasn’t taken up the issue since it said it would take months of research to determine how to develop laws for an urban deer hunt that would be successful. That’s a lot of months of research.

Some cities have trained officers take care of the hunt. Others require bows only in a public park or public lands. Some have a lottery system, allowing a certain number of hunters to participate in the one- or two-day event.

Would it work in Fairmont? We took that issue to our readers who log on each week to to vote in our online poll. Last week we asked: “Do you believe an urban deer hunt would solve issues with overpopulation of deer within city limits”

And here are your results:

Yes — Deer are destroying property, pose a driving hazard and are starving to death in the city. A hunt would control the population — 50.43 percent.

Maybe — But the hunt has to be done in a logical and effective way — 27.83 percent.

 No — Aside from building a giant wall around town, there’s not much you can do to control the migration of wild animals — 21.74 percent.

It sure seems like Fairmont ought to take up the issue again.

This week, let’s talk about how you see the next few years going in Washington, D.C., now that the election is over and the dynamic really hasn’t changed much.

Log on. Vote. Email me or respond directly online.

Misty Poe

Managing Editor