From the Jacksonville Daily News:
With the number of deer in the Town of Emerald Isle continuing to rise, the town is planning to expand on its first effort to reduce the population.
The town is again applying for a depredation permit from the N.C. Wildlife Resource that would allow bow hunting by a selected group of people to come in and hunt the deer on behalf of the town for a limited period of time at Emerald Isle Woods Park and other authorized private properties.
The action is similar to its first effort to reduce the deer population with targeted bow hunting. In January and February of 2010, the hunt by qualified town police officers resulted in the elimination of 11 deer.
But that effort was limited to the 42-acre Emerald Isle Woods Park owned by the town.
This season, the town will be working with private property owners with large parcels of property along the Coast Guard Road corridor to gain their permission to have town-sanctioned bow hunters come on their property.
The hunt in 2010 went well and without incident but it wasn’t enough to keep the deer population down and it’s now higher than it has ever been at an estimated 174 deer.
“As noted, the Fall 2011 deer population estimate is the highest estimate yet, and this coincides with personal observations and the conventional wisdom in the community that the deer population has increased in recent years,” Town Manager Frank Rush said in information presented to the Board of Commissioners.
The town has worked with the WRC on addressing concerns about the increasing deer population and deer population estimates have been done since 2005.
A Fall 2005 estimate was 65 to 91 deer and no action was taken at that time because the number was considered to be in an acceptable range for the Emerald Isle community.
By 2009, the population had grown to an estimated 149 deer and the town considered various options for reducing the population. It considered non-lethal approaches such as contraceptives, sterilization and tranquilization/relocation of the deer but was advised by the WRC biologist that the approaches are not effective, can be costly and can still result in harm or death of the animal, according to town information.
The Board of Commissioners decided at that time to apply for the first depredation permit.
A Fall 2010 estimate put the deer count at 102 to 108 and no action was taken then because the numbers were more in line with the 2005 estimate.
But the latest estimate is the highest ever and that has the town taking action again.
If the depredation permit is approved, the bow hunting would be held in January and/or February.
The town will only be working with willing property owners for any hunting outside the town park. The town will also be selecting a group of bow hunters for officially organizations specifically requested by the town. The town will not be accepting applications or requests from individual hunters to come to Emerald Isle to hunt on behalf of the town.
The depredation permit is not an open deer hunting season for the general public in Emerald Isle and hunting of any kind in the town is illegal.
Deer meat from the coordinated bow hunting effort will be donated to feed the hungry.
Contact Daily News reporter Jannette Pippin at 910-382-2557 or firstname.lastname@example.org.