SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Deer roaming areas of South Charleston are pushing city officials to consider urban hunting - but they emphasize the only thing that is beginning right now is a general conversation about the issue.
During Thursday night's city council meeting, Mayor Frank Mullens announced the formation of a committee to study the issue. Councilman Jeff Means (Ward 8) will be its chairman, and other members will include Police Chief Brad Rinehart and concerned citizens on both sides of the issue. The committee will begin meeting after the first of the new year, Mullens said.
"We have more than our fair share of deer," Means said about his ward.
The ward includes part of Montrose Drive, James Park, Thousand Oaks and part of the West Virginia Regional Technology Park. The latter location has a wooded area. Citizens on one side of the issue, Means said, are incensed because of damage to their yards and flowers. Others feed the deer and make them pets. The committee will get information from both sides and try to find a solution.
He strongly emphasized that only a conversation about the issue - not hunts - was beginning.
"All we've done is agree to look at it," he said. "As soon as it was announced, we had calls from people on both sides. Hopefully, we find something that satisfies both."
In considering this, South Charleston will examine what other cities with urban deer hunting, such as Charleston, have done. Some requirements may include only allowing hunts on certain land sizes.
Rinehart said city officials had a couple of meetings with West Virginia Division of Natural Resources in late October to explore their options. What could happen is South Charleston modeling any permitted urban deer hunting after Charleston's. Rinehart also emphasized that urban hunting would only involve bowhunting - no firearms - and in certain size plots. Hunters would also have to be stationary, possibly having to stay in tree stands.
"We're not going to have people in neighborhoods walking around with bows," he said.
Like Means, Rinehart said the city is only exploring the issue now. In August, the city will likely submit something to the DNR, and this is why it is beginning to examine the situation now.
In other business:
* Council members approved an ordinance allowing the mayor to submit an application for annexation to the Kanawha County Commission. This involves properties off U.S. 119, past the Southridge shopping center and near Ruthlawn Elementary School. Mullens said residents of a condominium complex requested the annexation.