WINNSBORO — Winnsboro has long seen its deer population wandering through town, but this year Town Council is considering taking action to reduce the number of deer in town.
Tuesday night, the council welcomed wildlife biologist Charles Ruth from the S.C. Department of Natural Resources. Ruth discussed the deer population and the three options Winnsboro has in dealing with the population, as well as the difficulties the DNR faces when dealing with urban deer populations.
The first option will likely appeal to many residents who enjoy the presence of the deer: do nothing. For many residents, deer are graceful animals they enjoy watching from their porch.
Councilman Clyde Sanders said he even feeds the deer in his yard. Ruth, however, advised against this tactic. While the deer are nice, they present dangers, especially on roads at night.
The second option Ruth presented was to allow hunters to obtain special permits to hunt inside town limits. This would also require the approval of land owners in town and would likely be restricted to archery to alleviate concerns about potential firearm-related incidents.
Ruth said “a number of states, in fact, have a number of special urban deer seasons which affords the hunters additional opportunity to hunt within city limits.”
The final option presented was “a special weapons and tactics type situation,” according to Ruth. This would involve law enforcement or a contractor to reduce the deer population by allowing activities that hunters are not normally permitted to do, such as night hunting.
Because of the specialized nature of this option, it would be an expensive option as it requires sound suppression equipment and permits not usually issued through DNR and local law enforcement.
This option also leads to potential legal ramifications, and Ruth discussed a case that resulted from this method in Beaufort.
While the matter was discussed, no decisions were made. Ruth expects controversy over the coming months as many residents have made it clear they are happy with the deer population as it stands.
Reach James Inabinet at 803-635-4016.