Taking Aim

Published 6:36 pm Wednesday, September 11, 2013

AHOSKIE – John Fritz never thought he’d be talking about the eradication of the deer population within the Ahoskie town limits.

But he also wants a beautiful and picturesque landscape for the Jernigan House Bed & Breakfast he co-owns with his wife, and with the deer feasting on his flora and fauna that’s become challenging.

After trying other eradication methods that were either less effective or more expensive, Fritz now supports bow hunting of deer on private property within the town limits.

“We tried a more passive way,” Fritz said during a public hearing Tuesday before the Ahoskie Town Council. “But these things are rodents, and the only way to get rid of them is to kill them.”

“I’m not an advocate of killing things,” Fitz stressed, “but I just don’t know what to do with these guys.”

Now, beginning with the North Carolina Eastern Deer Season (Sept. 7, 2013-thru-Jan. 1, 2014) bow hunting, with certain restrictions, will be allowed within the Ahoskie town limits, but not on property owned by the town of Ahoskie.

The ordinance, passed unanimously by the Town Council at their meeting on Tuesday, allows daylight hours bow hunting for deer: (1) only from a permanent or portable elevated stand or platform of at least 10 feet off the ground. This is meant as a safety measure, to ensure that when a hunter fires, the arrow flies at a downward angle that allows it only a short flight. (2) It can only occur on private land, with the landowner’s written permission, and the minimum acreage is one-fourth of an acre. An owner’s permission has to allow not just the shooting of an animal but also the retrieval of its carcass. Wounded deer can travel a few dozen or even a couple hundred yards before they expire.

The Council chose this over the state’s Urban Archery Program (UAP), though Ahoskie may participate in the program in 2015 if it is needed. The UAP adds an additional five weeks of bow hunting season beginning in January at the end of the regular bow hunting season.

The Urban Archery Season is available for cities, towns and villages that submit to the Wildlife Resources Commission, by April 1 of each year, a letter of intent to participate in the season. A map clearly defining the area included in the season should also accompany the letter of intent.

The Urban Archery Season does not obligate private landowners to allow hunting on their property, nor does it eliminate the ethical requirement for obtaining permission from the land – owner before hunting. Hunters are legally required to obtain written permission to hunt on posted property.

City officials have been studying the issue because they’ve been fielding requests for over a year now, from residents as well as local hunters, for at least a loosening of the city’s existing, across-the-board ban on bow hunting within the city limits.

“I’ve talked to North Carolina Fish & Wildlife and instead of going to an urban archery season they are opening up property within municipalities to allow bow hunting,” said Town Manager Tony Hammond.

“The North Carolina rules and regulations on hunting do not prohibit any type of hunting within municipalities; it’s always controlled by municipal ordinances and ours specifically says you cannot hunt in the town of Ahoskie,” Hammond added.

The adoption of a bow hunting ordinance would open up the possibility of a private property home owner to give written permission to an individual bow hunter who has a license to take deer in the state of North Carolina to hunt on their particular piece of property from an elevated tree stand.

Supporters of these ordinances say it’s a good way to curb a deer-overpopulation problem that results each year in a multitude of bent car fenders and damaged gardens.

According to NC Department of Transportation, Hertford County had 130 animal-related crashes in 2011. That number increased to 138 last year. Further, DOT says approximately 90% of these crashes are deer related.

The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission regulates and enforces the bow hunting season and also picks up its cost. The town of Ahoskie would be responsible for enforcing and funding any additional regulations.