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City police: Deer issue is declining
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A deer snacks on bird seed from a feeder at a Forest Park home. (Bulletin file photo)

Sunday, June 30, 2013

By MICKEY POWELL - Bulletin Staff Writer

Martinsville police think problems with roaming deer have declined due to hunting allowed in the city during the past decade, but they have no proof, according to police Capt. Eddie Cassady.

For years, residents citywide have complained about deer eating flowers, plants and vegetables in gardens and yards and jumping in front of moving vehicles.

But police are hearing less often from homeowners trying to find people to hunt on their properties to get rid of deer, and the number of deer-related traffic accidents citywide has declined, Cassady said.

Hunting in the city “helps to control the (deer) population,” he said. “At least we’re doing something” to try and curb problems with the animals.

Deer legally can be hunted in the city from early September to late March each year during the state’s regular deer-hunting season and special urban archery seasons right before and after the regular season. The latter were created by the state to curb deer problems in heavily populated areas.

Only bows and arrows can be used to hunt deer in Martinsville — firearms are banned under city regulations.

Also, only deers without antlers — specifically, does — can be hunted during the urban archery seasons, Cassady said. Bucks cannot reproduce.

A total of 290 deer have been killed in Martinsville since 2004 when the city began taking part in urban archery seasons, according to Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) statistics.

That number includes deer “harvested” — the term that officials use to be polite — in both the urban and regular hunting seasons, Cassady said.

The number of harvested deer varies from year to year.

Thirty-four were harvested both in 2010-11 and 2009-10. Forty-four were harvested in 2008-09, statistics show, as well as 26 in 2007-08, 38 in 2006-07, 31 in 2005-06 and 42 in 2004-05 when Martinsville began taking part in the urban archery seasons. The numbers include both the urban seasons and the regular annual deer-hunting season.

Of the 41 deer harvested in 2011-12, 10 were during the urban archery seasons. That was the fifth highest number among 37 localities statewide participating in the seasons, Cassady said.

During that fiscal year, DGIF figures indicate, 315 deer were harvested in Fairfax County, followed by 79 in Chesterfield County, 28 in Suffolk, 19 in Lynchburg and the 10 in Martinsville.

Cassady said the number of deer-related traffic accidents in Martinsville fell from 10 in 2009-10 to four in both 2010-11 and 2011-12. So far, no deer accidents have been reported to police in the current fiscal year, which will end today, he said.

Hunting deer with archery equipment seems to have become more popular in recent years, Cassady said, and “it’s really not hard to find someone” who is interested in hunting on properties in the city to curb the deer problem.

Hunters must have the proper state permits to hunt in the city. Among other rules they must follow:

• Hunters must obtain written permission from the property owner.

• Discharging an arrow is allowed only in order to take a deer. No discharge of an arrow shall be made toward any person, any animal other than a deer, any structure or any vehicle in such a manner as the arrow may strike such person, animal, structure or vehicle, nor shall a discharge be made in such a manner that the arrow may strike in any roadway.

• Archery equipment can be discharged only from temporary platforms at least seven feet above the ground. Any disabled hunter unable to hunt from such a platform must comply with all regulations established by the DGIF.

• No pursuit of an injured or wounded deer shall be permitted upon the land of neighboring landowners unless the hunter first gets permission from those people. No field dressing of deer is allowed without landowners’ permission.


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