DURHAM — The city could be just 17 days away from opening its first deer season.
City Council members have a draft ordinance on Thursdays work session agenda that allows deer hunting in the city with bow and arrow or crossbow. Barring objection then, the ordinance will be on track for formal approval at the councils regular meeting Sept. 3 four days before the season opens.
An ad hoc committee of local government, Duke Forest and state wildlife staff, and hunters recommended opening the city for bowhunting after hunters brought the idea to city officials last fall.
The city currently prohibits shooting any wild game, including squirrels, with firearms or bows. The proposed ordinance removes the ban on bowhunting during the state deer season, which this year runs Sept. 7 through Dec. 31.
Lifting the bow prohibition would also allow Durham to hold an urban archery season in January and February 2015. Urban archery requires a state permit application about nine months before the urban season begins.
In 2012, 38 North Carolina towns held urban archery seasons, including Chapel Hill, Pittsboro and Smithfield. Commissioners in Wake Forest voted earlier this year to establish an urban archery season.
As proposed, the Durham bowhunting ordinance requires:
• Hunting only from a platform at least 10 feet above the ground
• Hunting only on private parcels of more than 2 acres
• A valid hunting license and written permission from the landowner if a hunter is not on his/her own land or accompanied by the owner
An online petition for bowhunting deer in Durham, started in 2011, had 329 signatures as of Tuesday. Advocates claim bowhunting is a safe way of curbing urban deer populations.
No standards exist for an optimal deer density within a given urban area but, according to city-county intern Emily Leik, who led the ad hoc committee, Deer interference can still have a negative effect on the daily lives of Durham residents such as landscape damage, spreading disease and creating traffic hazards.