Newell: Bear highlights need for wildlife control

PARKERSBURG – A bear found roaming in Parkersburg underscores the problem the city has with wildlife, the mayor said Wednesday.

The 250-pound black bear was shot and killed early Wednesday morning after it was tracked by police and conservation officers to Jackson Avenue. It was spotted by residents, including being near the Jefferson Elementary Center.

“It does drive home the issue that the city has a problem with wildlife,” Mayor Bob Newell said.

The much-publicized problem includes deer roaming around town, eating expensive shrubbery and other vegetation in gardens, and coyotes, particularly near the earthen levee that comprises part of the floodwall. Coyotes prey on the animals that live in the grass, Newell said.

The city has tried to reduce the deer population, organizing an effort at Johnson T. Janes Park off 25th Street. Last year was the second time deer were killed at Johnson T. Janes, a wildlife area.

Efforts to remove deer in Parkersburg can be extended to other areas, including the reservoirs on the north end at 26th Street and on the south side and at the floodwall, the mayor said.

The land around Parkersburg Catholic High School and Mt. Olivet Cemetery is another problem area with the urban deer herd, said Councilman John Kelly, who represents District 7, which includes Johnson T. Janes and environs.

“I agree with the mayor 100 percent,” Kelly said.

Kelly said he would support changes in the requirements for approved participants that will make it easier to be and remain involved, such as allowing those who have demonstrated their proficiency not to be retested.

Participants go through an archery certification program.

He also recommends the initiative at Johnson Janes be held in October when it is colder rather than in September, but that the length of time when the participants can kill the deer in the park not be reduced. Starting in October would also allow for other programs and educational activities being considered at Johnson Janes, he said.

Kelly lives near Johnson T. Janes and participated in the removal of deer there last year. Participants killed 21 deer using bow and arrow, he said.

“Of the 21, I killed three of them,” Kelly said.

That will not be enough to thin the population in the area of Johnson T. Janes and particularly not enough for the other problem areas of town, he said.

“It’s not going to help the south side one bit,” Kelly said.

Newell, a former chief who was a policeman since the 1970s, can’t remember any other incidents with bear in town, although he recollects a mountain lion may have been caught here. Deer are another story, he said, recounting times when the animals have gotten inside businesses by breaking through the windows.

The deer kill at Johnson T. Janes has been successful and could be successful in other areas too, Newell said.

“And it’s been safe,” he said.