by Lisa Sorg
"You have to think about one shot. One shot is what it's all about. A deer's gotta be taken with one shot."—The Deer Hunter
The deer were here before sprawl encroached on their habitat, but they can’t use bows and arrows to drive us away.
So Durham City Council is leaving it to the hunters to cull the herd, voting unanimously Monday night to approve bowhunting for deer under certain conditions. The issue was part of the consent agenda, which is generally reserved for non-controversial items. There was no discussion, since the proposal had been debated at length during previous council meetings.
Council passed the ordinance citing concerns over car-deer collisions, crop damage and Lyme disease, according to city documents.
In 2012, North Carolina reported 127 confirmed and probable cases of Lyme disease in 54 of the state’s 100 counties, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services By the end of 2012, Wake, Guilford and Haywood counties had been classified as endemic for Lyme, meaning that at least two cases had been confirmed in each county and the infection was acquired there.
By comparison, in 2009, more than 28,000 cases were reported in New England and the mid-Atlantic states, where Lyme disease is concentrated.
North Carolina reported an estimated 43,844 car-deer accidents, costing about $147 million, according to State Farm Insurance and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
And the state’s row crop farmers lose more than $30 million annually because of crop damage caused by deer, according to the Beaufort Observer.
With the passage of the ordinance next fall, hunters can use bows and arrows to shoot deer on private property within the Durham city limits.
The ordinance lays out the conditions as follows:
Bow hunting is allowed on tracts that are at least five acres or on adjacent land that totals more than that amount. The property must either be owned by the hunter or he or she must have written consent from the landowner.
The hunter must have a valid North Carolina hunting license; archery must be conducted from a platform of at least 10 feet above the ground.
A hunter cannot discharge an arrow within 250 feet of any occupied building, street, park or recreational area. Nor can a hunter shoot an arrow within 250 feet of the boundary of the area of consent. According to council memos, the average bow range is 60 to 90 feet.
A hunter must make a “reasonable effort” to track wounded deer, kill it and recover the carcass. However, according to the city’s legal department, the ordinance does not address the possibility that a wounded deer could wander outside of the consent area. At that point, the hunter would likely have to call 9-1-1 or animal control to finish killing the animal.
It is still illegal to shoot and poison any wild game, including squirrels.
Every two years the city manager will report to city council the number of deer harvested, any impact on the number of deer-car collisions and any safety issues.
Raleigh, Chapel Hill, Wake Forest, Greenville, Concord and Kannapolis also allow bow hunting for deer within their city limits.
Bow hunting season for deer runs from Sept. 7–Nov. 1, according to the N.C. Wildlife Commission.