Clayton News-Star

Hunting would require town permit in Clayton

A proposed Clayton hunting ordinance will require residents to obtain a town hunting permit, in addition to the state hunting license.

That permit will come with a fee, one Town Manager Steve Biggs said will be nominal.

“It creates a situation where citizens understand they can’t do this willy-nilly,” Biggs said of requiring a town permit.

“It is by no means a revenue item for us,” he continued. “The reason is to enforce the rules.”

Clayton leaders are considering allowing bow hunting in the town limits during the fall deer-hunting season and extended urban archery season, which runs through February.

The town would allow hunting only on private tracts of land of at least five acres, according to a draft of the proposed ordinance. Hunters would have to shoot from at least 10 feet above the ground and toward the interior of the property.

The town would not allow hunting within 150 feet of a house or street right-of-way, though that rule would not apply to the hunter’s own home.

In addition, the ordinance would ban hunting within 300 feet of daycares, schools, churches and town parks.

Hunters would need written permission to go on another landowner’s property.

Biggs said that in towns that allow hunting, it’s common for the municipality to request that hunters obtain a town permit, in addition to the state license.

“In order to get a town permit, they will need to specify where they are hunting and if they have permission,” Biggs said.

Jay Hall of Clayton originally requested that the town allow bow hunting. He said he doesn’t fully support the town requiring its own permit.

“This seems unreasonable because throughout a season, a hunter may be allowed to hunt on plots they never thought they would be allowed,” Hall said in an email. “Would they have to go back to the city and notify them? What if they found out they could hunt somewhere on a Saturday and there would be no time to go to the city?”

If a hunter had a state license but not a town permit, it would be up to the town to enforce the violation, Biggs said. The proposed hunting ordinance says violators would lose their town hunting permit for three years.

In North Carolina, residents must take a hunter safety course before they can purchase a regular, $20 hunting license.

After reviewing the draft ordinance on Aug. 4, the Clayton Town Council asked that the town seek public input on the proposal. Biggs said the town plans to notify various homeowners’ associations about the matter.

“We want the public to be well aware that this is a change in policy under consideration,” Biggs said.

Wildlife officials say urban-area bow hunting is safe and needed to reduce urban deer populations that some blame for car crashes and garden mischief.

From 2010 to 2012, Johnston County reported 1,545 animal-related car crashes, about 90 percent of them involving deer, according to the N.C. Department of Transportation. The crashes caused 67 injuries and property damage totaling $3.5 million, the DOT said.

Statewide, North Carolina reported about 20,000 deer-related car crashes in 2012, and Johnston County ranked sixth highest with 492 crashes, according to a study published last fall by the state’s Highway Safety Research Center.

Biggs said the town’s maintenance crews respond to 15 to 25 dead-deer calls per year.

“That requires them to stop what they are doing, retrieve the animal, drive to the dump and bury them,” Biggs said. “When there is a deer hit by a vehicle, there is a pretty significant dedication of manpower and equipment.”