JAMESTOWN – Those tasked with finding a solution to control the rapidly growing white-tailed deer population in Jamestown will likely make a decision on what to do in the coming months.
The City of Jamestown Deer Management Work Group met last week to continue a nearly year-long discussion on the subject.
Among those in attendance was Cayuga Heights Mayor Linda Woodard, who offered her expertise to the committee, having faced an overpopulation of deer in her area and successfully bringing their numbers down.
She discussed her experience using a professional hunting company, but noted that it was an expensive investment. In fact, she said they paid roughly $27,000 for three nights of work.
“It just isn’t cheap, but we don’t have an alternative,” said Woodard. “And, it’s effective. They’ve never had a [wounded] deer run, they’ve never had a resident even know that they’re coming.”
Woodard explained that before the culling program began, there were 125 deer per square mile in her area. Now, that number is down to approximately nine.
Another option discussed would be to set up times in which volunteer hunters could kill deer, which seemed to be what the Group was leaning towards.
“Almost every other municipality in the area does use volunteer hunters, and they have varying amounts of success. It really depends on who you have doing the hunting and how dedicated they are,” furthered Woodard. “It does work, it is cost effective, but it doesn’t necessarily reduce the deer population to the point where you’re not going to get complaints from residents who get their vegetation being destroyed.”
The committee is eyeing controlled hunts with volunteer hunters in local parks with ample distance from houses, likely in late November or December.
They also plan on telling hunters not to shoot unless they know for sure that the deer won’t be able to sprint away while injured, which could pose a risk to city residents.
“I’d say 90 percent of the people I talk to have support for a controlled hunt,” commented Councilman Thomas Nelson.
Moral and ethical questions were accounted for as well.
“I’d even go as far as saying we could take fawns [along with does]. I know that’s another sensitive subject for some people, but when you’re talking about wildlife management, it’s kind of what you have to do,” explained hunter Matthew Larson.
It was also noted that decreasing the deer population to a more reasonable number wasn’t going to be a quick affair.
“It’s going to be a few year process to thin the herd out and get it back down to a manageable number where the system can support that and you don’t have deer coming deep into the city,” stated Larson.
Additionally, it was determined that before the hunts occur, public service announcements should be released, explaining why the deer need to be culled in an effort to support the ecosystem, in hopes that people opposing the killing of deer can understand the necessity of it.
“People are at kind of a breaking point. They want something done about [the deer],” remarked Nelson.
The next steps, according to the group, would be to hold a public hearing on the issue and then a vote to move forward with hunts or not at some point this fall. If the voting results approve the culling, the Department of Environmental Conservation would be contacted in order to get permission for this endeavor.