Faceoff

Should deer hunting be allowed in residential areas?

March 29, 2010 

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CORRECTION In a Faceoff column that ran Monday on the Triangle & Co. front, the location given for the Governors Club subdivision, scene of a bowhunt for deer, was in error. The gated community is in northern Chatham County.

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Suburban hunting can curb deer population

BY JIM NESBITT

It has always struck me as passing strange that in a nation where pets and charismatic wildlife such as the wolf have been elevated to demi-god status, there is such profound ignorance about the wild thing next door.

My opponent draws a bright line between supposedly vast rural acres where hunting can take place and subdivisions where homeowner and deer must learn to co-exist.

Truth is, North Carolinians don't live that way. Before the Great Recession, we plunked subdivisions in the middle of forests and fields at a frightful pace, fragmenting wildlife habitat and gobbling up about 1.5 million acres of countrified land between 1984 to 2004.

When the economy cranks back up, we'll do so again, maintaining our dubious status as a top 10 state for acreage of housing slapped up in the once-wild living room of deer and other critters.

As most wildlife biologists will tell you, the surest way to control deer is with well-regulated hunting. But rampant development has barred hunters from the very places where the conflict between deer and man is most severe.

Other measures won't cull the herd to levels the land can sustain or lessen the threat of Lyme disease.

Boys and girls, drop the suburban 'tude and see your wild neighbors as noble animals, not azalea-munching pests or four-legged car-wreckers. North Carolina's estimated 1.25 million deer are extremely adaptable creatures with few natural predators, able to hunker down in the thinnest thicket and ghost past houses and fences.

Hunters, myself included, are often regarded as Satan's spawn by folks who worship wildlife from afar. But a tightly controlled bow hunt can restore an effective check where it's needed most. It ain't a silver arrow, but it sure can help.

Jim Nesbitt is Wake County/Monday editor.

Hunters should steer clear of suburbs

BY WALTER BOLLENBACHER

I grew up hunting, and our sons hunt. We have felt the highs of taking a trophy buck and the lows of human error. Despite the lows, I support hunting to manage the deer population - but not in residential neighborhoods. Why?

As the N.C Wildlife Resources Commission stated in its "Deer Problems in Residential Areas," when "hunting in residential situations...the discharge of any weapon (including bow and arrow) is dangerous and a...permit will not be allowed." As I realized and the commission notes, the deer problem is a "people problem" resulting "when people place a higher value on their ornamental plants than on the wildlife that lived in the area before the houses were built."

Why, then, do individuals rush to kill inside neighborhoods? It is because the Wildlife Commission, which grants residential hunting permits, has forgotten its own advice that hunting should be relegated to surrounding rural areas; and that non-lethal remedies such as repellents, fences and birth control are for residential use. "There will probably always be a significant deer population..." the commission states, "and if you choose to plant species ... attractive to deer, you will always have deer depredation problems..."

Simply, "the challenge is...to learn how to live with deer ...and for surrounding landowners to learn how to ... control their deer populations."

It follows, then, that the greatest impact on North Carolina's residential deer population would be for the commission to increase hunting to reduce the state's deer population, and for neighborhoods to manage deer via the recommended smart, non-lethal strategies.

Walter E. "Skip" Bollenbacher lives in Governors Club, a Chapel Hill neighborhood where bow hunting created a controversy this winter.

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