The town of Wake Forest is considering a new law that would allow bow-and-arrow hunting of deer within city limits.
Proponents say it’s a practical measure to control the population of deer encroaching on developed areas, but those against it point to the potential danger of “urban archery.”
Town commissioners recently voted 3-2 to draft the ordinance, which would take effect in 2014 if approved.
Although the proposal is a long way from a public hearing or final vote, it’s already drawing strong reactions from residents.
Some say they’ve had enough of deer wandering into their driveways and munching through their gardens like an open buffet.
“This morning we saw them at 2 in the morning, about three nice-size ones in front of the old homes here,” resident Jerry Ammon said.
“It's not uncommon for us to pull up at night and there to be three or four deer out there,” neighbor George Robinson said. “As soon as the hostas start growing, they will chew them all the way to the ground."
Another resident, Rhian Dickinson, said deer have “eaten our tomatoes, beans, flowers, trees.”
Wake Forest Commissioner Frank Drake supports the ordinance, saying he believes bow hunting can be done safely. A reduced deer population would also reduce the potential for dangerous accidents by drivers who hit the animals, he said.
“I have seen a doe take the front end off a Prius in Wake Forest,” he said.
“It's the amount of traffic we get through here,” he said. “There's dead deer all over Wake Forest on the roads.”
But Town Commissioner Anna Hines said she’s concerned that if an animal isn’t killed right away by an arrow strike, it could roam around wounded.
In addition to safety concerns, Hines also questions whether the ordinance would be effective. She said there are 34 jurisdictions in North Carolina that allow bow-and-arrow deer hunting, and only 70 deer have been killed in that manner.
“I don't think it's really an effective means of culling the herd,” she said.
But Drake said the ordinance is better than nothing.
“Doing nothing won't help. This might help,” he said. “If it doesn't help, I suppose we'll have to buy them all bus tickets and send them away.”
Town leaders must work with the state to hammer out details of the ordinance, including the height of tree stands and distance that hunters must keep from homes.
The "urban archery season" would take place in January and February, after the regular hunting season ends.