Although Chapel Hill Town Council members took no action on a petition to reduce the area’s deer population, some say the issue is still one that needs to be addressed.
At the council’s Monday meeting, the town sustainability committee presented town officials with a petition to develop a policy to reduce the deer population to about 10 deer per square mile and increase cooperation with UNC in culling the herds.
The council has been wrestling with the issue for more than a year, but Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt said he feels revisiting the issue is not helpful.
“We’ve already had this conversation at the council,” he said. “The point of Monday’s meeting was to kind of let this go.”
A public forum was held last April to discuss different options on reducing the deer population.
In response, the town enacted an educational program with information on how to keep deer at bay, including planting vegetation deer avoid, building fences and using repellent.
“My decision is that there really hasn’t been enough time to justify any policy changes,” Kleinschmidt said.
“Education doesn’t seem like an effective tool in solving the problem,” Ward said. “It is a component, but not a stand-alone solution.”
The petition reused information from previous months to bolster its claims, which Ward said negatively affected its reception by council members.
He said the petition needed further expertise from medical professionals, botanists and hunters.
“The financial and health impacts (of the deer population) are areas that, in my mind, indicate that we cannot solve the problem by ‘educating’ people, whatever that means,” Ward said.
At April’s public forum, the town announced it had applied for a special five-week urban bowhunting season through the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission. The season, which was granted to the town, allows residents to cull deer by bow and arrow on their property past the regular hunting season.
Robert Reda, a local deer hunter, participated in both the regular deer hunting season from Sept. 11 to Jan. 1 and the special urban archery season from Jan. 15 to Feb. 19. He, his son and a friend took nine deer.
“There were almost 19 deer taken in our neighborhood alone,” Reda said. “You really want to concentrate on does because that’s the best way to control the population.”
While Reda said he noticed that many hunters partook in the hunting seasons, the overall impact of the culling is difficult to determine, and only time will tell whether it is effective.
“On the last day of the season, I saw 12 deer at one time in a three hour period in my neighborhood,” he said. “It’s going to take some time for this to really take effect.”
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