SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Urban deer hunting soon will be coming to South Charleston, the latest city to enact an effort to control the large and encroaching deer population.
The South Charleston City Council approved the proposal at Thursday night’s meeting, where Mayor Frank Mullens said support has been tremendous.
“We had public meetings with our residents and it seemed liked the majority, matter of fact an overwhelming majority, kind of supported an urban deer hunt,” he said. “And also the DNR recommended to us that that’s what we do to try an control our deer population.”
This urban deer hunt will be similar to the hunt Charleston has conducted for several years. Mullens said this doesn’t mean people will be walking through neighbor’s yards carrying weapons.
“It has to be on a property of five acres or more, has to be up on a tree stand shooting straight down and it’s bow hunting only, no guns,” said Mullens. “There’s only a few spots in South Charleston where you are going to be able to do it.”
The urban hunting will be limited to 20 areas in South Charleston and hunters must get permission from property owners before setting foot on the property. In addition, hunters must buy a permit and receive training.
“It will be controlled through our police department. Permits will be given out by our police chief,” Mullens said. “Background checks will be done and there will be education done for these folks, so they know what they can and can’t do.”
The city could charge up to $25 for a permit, officials said.
Also in the proposal, no hunting will be allowed within 500 feet of school property or 150 feet of a dwelling or occupied building.
Hunting would be allowed during the time established by the mayor or his representative and in accordance with all applicable state hunting rules and regulations. The ordinance would require all harvested deer be checked at an official game-checking station.
Mullens said at first he opposed the idea, but after learning more about it, believes it’s a necessity for the city.
“I’m OK with this and I’m comfortable with it,” he said. “I think it will be controlled enough that probably 90 percent or more of our citizens won’t even know it’s going on.”
The exact details of the hunt were not ironed out at the meeting, but the city attorney was expected to have that completed within the next week.
Mullens said the DNR told city officials this was their best and only option for controlling the deer population.