PARKERSBURG - Parkersburg City Council tonight will be considering a way to handle the urban deer problem.
The first reading of an ordinance establishing an urban deer management program is on the agenda for tonight's city council meeting at 7:30.
The ordinance is being sponsored by council members James Reed, Tom Joyce, Sharon Lynch, John Rockhold and Brad Kimes.
For more than a year, city residents have been complaining about deer ravaging gardens and flowers.
Last year at a series of town hall meetings, residents in the north end of town voiced complaints about the growing deer population. Council voted against a proposed urban deer hunt, but some members have said they would reconsider the matter.
Lynch said council has continually gotten complaints about the number of deer in neighborhoods in the north end of town.
''I have heard of several in the north end,'' she said. ''There are so many. Something needs to be done. This is a continuation of what has been going on for over a year.''
Council President James Reed said the previous attempt by city council to reduce the deer population was defeated by a 5-4 vote.
However, Reed has continually had people contact him about the deer problem in his district in north Parkersburg and in Woodland Park.
Officials with the state Division of Natural Resources have asked city officials to once again look into the possibility of the hunt after they had to recently deal with two deer fighting over food behind Parkersburg Catholic High School, Reed said.
''There is a lot of renewed interest in (the urban deer hunt),'' he said. ''We really have a problem.''
Lynch said similar hunts have been conducted in Charleston. Officials have been talking with officials in the capital city to see what needs to be done.
The proposed ordinance lays out how an urban deer hunt will be lawful in Parkersburg, including hunting being lawful by permit only, deer can be hunted only by bows and arrows and hunting can only occur on property with the written permission of the property owner and on city-owned property that has been designated for hunting by the public works director.
''The hunt would be very well controlled,'' Reed said.
Hunting would be conducted from an elevated portable tree stand, which is 10-feet high and faces the interior of the property. The stands and shooting lanes would be located in such a way as to direct arrows to the interior of the property.
Deer harvested would be legally checked at an official game checking station and reported to the city, the ordinance states.
No hunting would take place within 150 feet of a dwelling or closer than 500 feet from the boundary of school property.
Hunters would be required to carry a valid photo identification, a copy of their city permit and their West Virginia state hunting license.
The city would be responsible to dispose of any wounded deer or deer carcass found on non-permitted property.
The public works director would be in charge of selecting the tracts to be authorized for hunting. The city would post those locations on its website.
Hunters would be encouraged to donate deer meat to programs and organizations that provide meat to needy people.
Anyone violating state hunting laws or regulations regarding an urban deer hunt could be fined up to $500 per offense.
Reed expects people in support and against the idea of the hunt to come to council tonight to speak. He knows of people from Woodland Park who are expected to speak in favor of the hunt.
Lynch encourages people, whether they are for or against the hunt, to come to council and use the public comment period to let their feelings be known.
''I hope people will come out and take the opportunity to speak on it,'' she said.