Despite a year-long debate over tactics to decrease the local deer population, officials from Carrboro and Chapel Hill have yet to find a practical solution to the growing problem.
The towns’ leaders said they are waiting for community feedback before they install any permanent measures, but they have excluded a popular option some neighborhoods are calling for — an urban archery program — saying the solution isn’t a viable one.
Butch Kisiah, director of Chapel Hill’s Parks and Recreation Department, said the town has posted information on its website about other actions residents can take, like using deer repellent, planting vegetation that deer don’t eat and building fences.
“We want to see what happens when people do things for themselves, and we’ll come back to have people give us their opinions,” Kisiah said.
He said the Chapel Hill Town Council will hold a public meeting near March to allow residents to comment on how effective or problematic the town’s guidelines are.
But some residents are frustrated by the council’s lack of leadership in taking decisive action on the area’s deer problem.
Tom Henkel, a resident of Mount Bolus Road who has been actively involved with the urban archery dispute since last October, said the town’s political leadership needs to be ahead of its constituents.
“The council seems to be waiting for a human outcry from the residents,” Henkel said.
The urban archery program, which was created by the North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission, brings in licensed archers to cull the deer population in places where there aren’t many residents who hunt.
A Chapel Hill town meeting was held in April to discuss options to diminish the deer herd, but some town council members were hesitant to install a town-wide program, citing safety as a main issue.
Council members decided to survey the deer population and research other culling options.
But town officials have not yet completed the survey and have instead relied on information from the wildlife commission, which estimated there are nearly 480 to 700 deer in Chapel Hill.
Henkel said he is worried about possible increases of diagnoses of Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever in Orange County.
A rising deer population means an increasing number of deer ticks, heightening the risk of Lyme disease, he said.
“It started up in the Northeast, so medics here have never seen it before,” Henkel said. “You have people suffering serious consequences.”
The Carrboro Board of Aldermen has attempted to collaborate with Chapel Hill efforts and held a meeting last Tuesday to discuss the issue.
Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton said the only steps that were made included discussing a proposed ordinance that would make it illegal to intentionally feed deer.
Reports indicate that residents in suburban Carrboro have been hand-feeding deer.
“I put a bird feeder in my backyard,” Chilton said, “but deer are wild animals and need to be left to forage on their own.”
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