Cities say urban deer hunts successful
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Charleston's ninth urban deer hunt again killed a record number of deer, and South Charleston officials have reported success in that city's first-ever hunt.
In Charleston, 139 registered hunters took at least 100 deer -- 34 bucks and 66 does -- during the urban deer season, which ran from Sept. 7 to Dec. 31.
Hunters in Charleston have 72 hours to report a kill, meaning the final count could increase for any animals killed on Dec. 31 and reported today.
Regardless, the count of 100 deer breaks the previous record of 93, which was set in 2011. Last year, 130 registered hunters took a total of 83 deer.
This year, 25 properties were available for hunting in Charleston -- an increase from 22 in 2012 (Click here to see a breakdown of deer kills by property).
In terms of deer killed per acre, a parcel at Overbrook and Hickory Road was the 2013 hotspot, with nine killed on the 5.52-acre property.
By the same statistic, parcels at 900B Centers Road (a newcomer this year) and Angel Terrace took second and third place, respectively.
George Daniels owns the Overbrook and Hickory property. He said the hunt is helping to control the deer population.
"There has definitely been a reduction in the number of deer we see here," he said.
Daniels said he noticed an uptick in deer activity on his property after dog leash laws were enacted.
"We saw lots and lots of deer year after year," he said. "I'd say we only see half as many now."
As for the hunters who use his property, Daniels said it's been a positive experience.
"I have superb hunters," he said.
At-large Republican Councilman Tom Lane said the hunt is "good public policy" in terms of trying to thin deer herds in urban areas, recreation and donated meat that is used to help feed needy families.
"I think the urban hunt is something highly sought after by hunters," he said. "We have a lot of people that have applied and engaged in hunting."
Lane also owns the "Quarry Creek" property, which consists of several tracts between South Ruffner Road and South Park Road. The tract reported the highest count for 2013, with 18 deer killed -- nine more than the next-highest tract. Quarry Creek is also by far the largest tract available, at 162.99 acres.
As a landowner, Lane said he wasn't sure how the hunt affected the population on his property, but said the arrangement has "functioned very well from a property owner standpoint."
While Charleston had a record-setting year, this season was the first time an urban deer hunt was held in South Charleston.
South Charleston city attorney Michael Moore estimated 13 to 15 deer were killed on the three participating parcel of land. Six to eight hunters registered for the hunt, he said.
"In short, I think it was a very successful program," Moore said.
Moore said he expects the city will have final figures later this month.
The deer total is higher than Charleston's first urban deer hunt in 2005, when hunters bagged nine deer, though rules concerning bag limits have become more relaxed since then.
South Charleston's city council approved the urban deer hunt this summer. At the time, some residents expressed concern about allowing bow hunting in city limits.
"There was a perception that hunters would be running through neighborhoods with bows shooting deer," South Charleston Mayor Frank Mullens said.
However, Mullens said he hasn't heard a single complaint about the deer hunt.
"From my standpoint, the program worked exactly the way I thought it would," he said, later adding, "I bet if you asked people in South Charleston, they wouldn't know it was going on."
Wheeling, Bridgeport, Harpers Ferry and Morgantown are among the other cities in the state that have urban deer hunts.
There are several rules and restrictions in each municipality. In Charleston and South Charleston, deer may only be hunted with a bow from a tree stand, thereby shooting down at the deer.
Both cities also only allow hunting on approved tracts and require hunters to obtain city permits. Charleston issues permits and manages tracts through the city manager's office, and South Charleston does so through its police department.