Published: Nov 06, 2011 02:00 AM
Modified: Nov 04, 2011 07:34 PM
CARRBORO - The first step toward corralling the town's deer population is to stop feeding them, town leaders said.
The question of whether to allow bow hunters to harvest deer within the town limits is on the table for next year.
Starting immediately, residents may not put out fruits, vegetables, salt or other materials for deer on public or private property. The law does not apply to natural vegetation, crops or feeders used for domestic animals or livestock.
Interim Town Manager Matt Efird said police initially will warn violators. However, they'll eventually have 48 hours to remove illegal food or feeding devices or face a $25 fine.
The board passed the ban Tuesday night in response to concerns about the impact deer are having on private property and public safety. The Orange County Democratic Party's executive committee had also asked Carrboro and Hillsborough to allow an Urban Archery Program on public and owner-approved private lands.
State biologist George Strader said feeding deer attracts too many into one area, allowing diseases to spread more easily and creating an ideal reproductive situation. Deer that lose their fear of humans also wander closer to homes and into traffic, and pose a major public health risk from ticks that transmit Lyme disease and other illnesses.
The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission estimates Orange County has 30 to 44 deer per square mile. The Democratic Party resolution asked for hunts to cut the number to about 10 per square mile. Hillsborough's Town Board rejected the plan in September.
The aldermen discussed urban hunting in 2010 but decided to focus instead on public education about deer management. If bow hunting is approved, a town firearms ordinance also would need revision to allow the discharge of arrows.
Ashley Stanford, who lives on North Greensboro Street, said his property is under siege from deer, although it is surrounded by electric fencing and planted with supposedly deer-resistant vegetation.
"We need a solution, whether it's bow hunting from people who are proficient at it or it's me in my own backyard bow hunting," Stanford said. "There has to be something that's done."
While some aldermen said they are willing to listen, they're also concerned about public safety and animal welfare, especially in the densest parts of Carrboro, they said.
Alderwoman Jacquie Gist said she struggles with the issue, because deer that don't die instantly wander through neighborhoods, where children and other residents see them suffering.
"I worry about the pain of the animals, not so much the killing of the animals," Gist said. "I think most of the people coming to speak to us I'm sure are excellent archers, but not everybody who is an archer is an excellent archer, and even excellent archers have accidents."
Alderman Sammy Slade and others said they also want to be sensitive to residents with a different perspective on hunting.
"I think this is one of the issues where we need to hear from more residents," Mayor Mark Chilton said.
The aldermen agreed to hold a hearing in January to give staff time to notify the state if a 2013 hunt is approved. N.C. municipalities must apply by April 1 each year to hold an urban archery program outside of the regular hunting season, which lasts until Jan. 2.
The state has no reported injuries or deaths from bow hunting.