LOGAN, W.Va. –– Plans for a controlled deer hunt at Chief Logan State Park have been scrapped. West Virginia Division of Natural Resources Director Steve McDaniel addressed a handful of sportsmen and community activists at Logan Middle School Tuesday night in a discussion about the proposed hunt.
“We have decided to chancel the hunt,” McDaniel told the gathering. “In recent months, we have received a great deal of emotional feedback from people for and against the hunt at Chief Logan. We don’t want to have a program that would drive a wedge in the community. It’s not worth turning neighbor against neighbor.”
Earlier this year, both opponents and advocates of the hunt managed to reach the ear of Governor Jim Justice who ordered the idea put on hold and instructed McDaniel to further research the plan and get back to him. The deadline for the information was set for July 1st, but McDaniel shocked some in the crowd with the definitive announcement.
“We were a little surprised,” said Eddie Lawson with the Big Game Hunters Association of West Virginia. “They didn’t want to become a wedge between people in the community, and that’s kind of what they’ve done here so I can understand why they cancelled it.”
But Lawson and his organization still believe the Governor and the DNR made a mistake.
“The ecosystem in the park has been damaged and the number of deer needs to be reduced,” Lawson told MetroNews. “Not only to prevent inbreeding, but to give the ecosystem a chance to recover from the damage that’s already been done.”
Local veterinarian Dr. Scott Siegel, one of the leading opponents of the controlled hunt, couldn’t disagree more.
“One of the mandates of the DNR is to maintain the park ecosystem and if there is something destroying it, like an over population of deer, there needs to be a hunt held for conservation. I understand that,” Siegel said. “In this particular situation and in this particular park there is no overpopulation. I’ve maintained this point from day one so there is no justification.”
Siegel and the Friends of Chief Logan mounted their campaign to oppose the hunt. They came away from the meeting satisfied their concerns were allayed.
“I’m mostly relieved. There was a lot of dissent in the county and that’s not what parks are for,” he explained. “We frequent the park daily and we all knew there was no justification.”
Still for Lawson and other sportsmen, there is a worry it may have been a missed opportunity.
“My fear is on down the road my grandchildren will look back and maybe think we were just a little bit selfish,” said Lawson. “That we didn’t do what needed to be done to preserve it the way it should have been.”