SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- South Charleston's deer population has grown to the point where there are practically "herds" moving through people's yards, the mayor said, and the time has come to where the city must act to control it.
"Every year, it's gotten worse," Mayor Frank Mullens said at Thursday night's city council meeting. "There are whole herds coming through some properties. There was a picture I saw of a buck on a chain link fence, just hanging.
"It is time for us to do something."
A committee has been formed to study the issue and will likely hold its first public meeting by the end of the month, Mullens said.
Ward 8 Councilman Jeff Means will be the committee chairman. Other members will include Police Chief Brad Rinehart and concerned citizens on both sides of the issue. Citizens on one side of the issue, Means said, are incensed because of damage to their yards and flowers. Others feed the deer and treat them like pets.
The committee will get information from both sides and try to find a solution.
Urban deer hunting, Rinehart said last week, would only involve bow hunting. No firearms would be permitted.
Mullens believes the city is leaning toward developing some type of urban hunting ordinance. He said the eastern part of the city has been particularly overrun with deer, but problem deer are everywhere.
Since hearing the news that the city is considering urban hunts, the public reaction has been mixed, Mullens said.
More people who have contacted him seem to support the hunts, but there are detractors who dearly love animals. The key to working out a compromise, he believes, is public education. Any type of urban hunting that the city would adopt would be under tight controls, such as property owners having to give permission for hunting on their land and police issuing hunters' permits.
"We're not going to have people with bows and arrows running through neighborhoods hunting deer," he said.
The city cannot do anything until August, Mullens said, which will give people on both sides time to debate and for the city to mull any proposed ordinances.