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Urban hunting plan moves forward

AHOSKIE – Town officials here have taken the next step to possibly allow deer hunting within Ahoskie’s corporate limits.

During their monthly meeting on Jan. 10, members of the Ahoskie Town Council approved a motion to hold a public hearing on an urban hunting season, a program offered under the direction of the North Carolina Wildlife Commission.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Town Manager Tony Hammond readdressed the issue of allowing archery hunting within the town based on a request made last year by several citizens. He said there were some 40 municipalities in North Carolina that permit deer hunting by bow and arrow and crossbow.

“This is a program set up by the North Carolina Wildlife Commission and it tails a regular hunting season,” Hammond said. “Once deer season (by gun) ends in early January, the urban hunting season follows that by about 30 days.”

Hammond said he has contacted Chris Turner of the Wildlife Commission and he has agreed to address the urban hunting season program with the town council at their next regularly scheduled meeting (10 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 14). Hammond added that a public hearing on the matter could also be scheduled that day.

“Following the public hearing, if council is interested in pursuing this program in the March timeframe I will bring you a resolution of participation and a map that designates those areas we wish to allow hunting,” Hammond said.

He added that it is required of those taking part in a hunt within a designated area that they have written permission of the landowner. Hunting permits, which carry a fee (undetermined at this time), would be issued through the Ahoskie Police Department. Those holding a permit are required to hunt from an elevated stand.

“They would pick-up a permit during the morning hours and turn it back in later in the day, that way we’ll know who is hunting where at any given time,” Hammond said.

Hammond said if a property owner wishes to participate in this program and allow deer hunting on their land, they are required to notify the town.

“We’ve talked about this earlier and I’m satisfied with the regulations and the restrictiveness of this program,” said Councilman Malcolm Copeland upon making a motion to allow for a public hearing on Feb. 14.

Copeland’s motion was seconded by Councilman O.S. “Buck” Suiter Jr. and was approved without objection.

Council members first learned of the proposal at their September 2011 meeting. Hammond said at that time he had researched other North Carolina municipalities and discovered that a few did allow deer hunting, by bow and arrow, within the town’s corporate limits – Smithfield, Burgaw, Concord, Elkin, Fairview, Kannapolis, Kill Devil Hills, Mooresville and Nags Head, to name a few.

“It is allowed because these municipalities are being overrun by deer,” Hammond said at the September meeting. “These deer are impacting gardens, flower beds and things like that.”

In Ahoskie’s case, Hammond said deer hunting would be limited to certain areas.

“There are some areas where the deer population has increased,” Hammond said, identifying the Mitchell-Moore property along the railroad track and the rear portion of the town’s recreational complex. “Those are the first two areas I can think of that may qualify for the urban hunting program.”

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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