CHAPEL HILL — The Town Council received a staff report about a proposed ban on feeding deer Monday, but took no action.
Staff will now update the town’s website with information about how feeding deer can harm the animals and public health.
The issue came up in January when resident Margaret Heath asked the council to consider an ordinance banning backyard feeding of deer.
The ban, similar to one that Carrboro enacted in November, could help educate Chapel Hill residents, Heath said in an email.
“I think the ordinance will lead more people to act responsibly, be better stewards of wildlife, and it will help with their concerns about too many deer,” Heath said. “A lot of people might not have considered feeding deer to be harmful to deer, the ecology and to people. Yet feeding deer inadvertently promotes the very problems that have been blamed on deer.”
However, town staff were concerned that police officers would have to enforce a ban, taking them away from more serious matters. Staff also were concerned about putting officers in the middle of neighborhood disputes.
Kendra Mammone, founder and executive director of the CLAWS Inc. wildlife rehabilitation group, also told the council Monday that providing food doesn’t help deer.
“Feeding deer or any wildlife in your backyard is not necessary in North Carolina,” she said. “We have an abundance of food here.”
She also pointed out that a biting fly is causing hemorrhagic disease in deer, and wildlife officials expect it to kill roughly half the state’s deer population.
N.C. Wildlife Resource Commission officials estimate that Orange County has 30 to 44 deer per square mile.
WRC officials say too many deer in one area can spread diseases more easily. Deer that lose their fear of humans also wander closer to homes and into traffic, and pose a major public health risk from ticks that transmit diseases to humans, officials say.
Carrboro’s deer-feeding ordinance bans residents from putting out fruits, vegetables, salt and other food for deer on private property. The law does not apply to natural vegetation, crops or feeders used for domestic animals or livestock. Offenders who don’t remove illegal food or feeding devices within 48 hours face a $25 fine.
Carrboro animal control Officer Robert Nekoranec said he has only issued one fine since it went into effect but voided the ticket after the resident removed the food.