DURHAM — City Council members sent bowhunting back to the drawing board Thursday, putting off an in-town deer season indefinitely.
“We’ll be in touch,” City Manager Tom Bonfield told several hunters who appeared at a council work session to support opening the city to bow-and-arrow deer hunting.
The Council could have sent the proposal on for a vote at its Sept. 3 regular meeting, which could have legalized hunting inside the city limits in time for the state deer season’s Sept. 7 opening.
Instead, it sent the proposal back to the city attorneys for revisions. During discussion, council members set several points they wanted to have included when city attorneys re-draft the proposed change to the city code:
• An explicit ban on the use of dogs and firearms
• A ban on the use of mechanical feeders to attract deer
• A sunset clause, mandating a council review after several hunting seasons
• Required buffer zones between occupied buildings and hunting grounds.
The council also decided to hold a public hearing before voting on whether to approve a revised set of rules.
As written, the rules allowed hunting only from elevated stands on private tracts larger than two acres, by the landowner or someone with the owner’s permission.
Council Member Diane Catotti said she would prefer larger acreage, but did not specifically ask to have the requirement changed. Robert Reda, president of the Broken Arrow Archery Club in Chapel Hill, said Chapel Hill has no acreage requirement but the lack has caused no problems in the several years bowhunting has been allowed.
Eric Steinbicker, a Mebane hunter, contacted City Council members in 2012 to ask that they open a deer-hunting season in Durham. Hunting would help control troublesome deer populations and could provide meat for programs that feed the poor, he said.
State law allows cities to legalize hunting, during the regular game seasons and/or in a five-week wintertime Urban Archery season. Durham’s proposed regulations only apply to the fall.
After the discussion, Durham hunter Don Hilkey asked when a revised proposal would come back to the council.
“The matter is going back to the administration,” Mayor Pro Tem Cora Cole-McFadden said, “and at some juncture will come back.”