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Officials see success with urban hunting

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Urban hunters in Charleston have bagged 56 deer since the city's archery season began Sept. 8, and two months remain in the season. 

A total of 93 animals were killed last year, City Manager David Molgaard said.

"I absolutely think this is working," Molgaard said. "All you have to do is look at the numbers."

A bill permitting urban deer hunting was passed in 2006. It was drafted to help cull deer herds running amok in the city, Molgaard said.

Just 20 deer were killed the first year of the program, he said. That number has steadily increased over the years as regulations have been altered to allow for more animals to be "harvested," Molgaard said.

The bill was amended in 2009, requiring hunters to kill one doe before they can kill a buck. This change directly resulted in higher numbers of animals killed throughout the season, Molgaard said.

Twenty-eight deer were killed in 2007, and 36 were reported the following year. That number jumped to 54 when the new regulation was passed, according to figures provided by the city.

"I don't think we'll ever completely eradicate deer from our city," Molgaard said. "But I think we can make a pretty good dent in their population."

The reasoning behind the requirement that a female deer must be killed before a hunter can bag a buck is to further lower the population, Molgaard said.

"If you assume the does would produce two fawns the next season, then the deer population would grow exponentially every year," he said.

So far this season, hunters have killed 43 females, 20 fewer than taken during the whole season last year.

"And we have two months of the hunt left," Molgaard said.

The urban deer hunt lasts from Sept. 8 until Dec. 31.  

The number of hunters also has increased since the hunt was legalized in 2006. That year only 35 hunters took to stands for the season. More than 100 have received permits every year since, Molgaard said. This year 126 permits have been issued.

Both privately owned and city-owned lots of five contiguous acres or more can be hunted.  However, the property owner must grant permission, Molgaard said.

Only five tracts were hunted in 2006. This year 22 parcels will be hunted, including city-owned properties, he said. That's less than the 24 available to hunters in 2010 but more than the 21 available last year.

These totals include two large sections of land owned by the city - Cato Park and a parcel of land off Pacific Street. Both are on the West Side hill.

The decision to open the city to urban archery hunting did not come without opposition, Molgaard said. However, he believes the program has been a success and there have been few problems.

One of the concerns mentioned was the possibility of wounded deer wandering into yards to die.

When that has occurred, he said, "we went out and collected that deer right away." 

Hunters are required to notify the city and the police department about any wounded animals that they cannot find, he said. This system seems to work well, but most of the deer shot by archers are found.

There have also been no reported accidents during the urban deer hunt, Molgaard said.

The city is still accepting applications for permits. Those interested in applying can contact Molgaard's assistant, Caroline Kenney, at 304-348-8014.       

Contact writer Paul Fallon at or 304-348-4817. Follow him at



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