PARKERSBURG - The harvest in the urban deer eradication in Parkersburg has risen since it began in 2011.
Hunters took about a dozen deer the first year. That number rose to 21 in 2012, according to the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources and doubled to 42 in 2013.
Jeff McCrady, District VI wildlife biologist with the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, said he's noticed a difference in reports of deer damage in the city.
Photo by Evan Bevins
Parkersburg Mayor Bob Newell discusses the possibility of expanding the city’s urban deer hunt to additional places like this area below the water treatment plant and near the floodwall. A portion of the land behind him is owned by Pennzoil, and the city is in the process of acquiring it.
"Since the hunt has started, the number of complaints I have here has dropped dramatically," he said.
Now Parkersburg officials are considering whether it's time to expand the areas where people can shoot deer with a bow from a treestand beyond Johnson T. Janes Park.
"Eventually we're going to have to look at the area along the floodwall and some of the reservoirs," Mayor Bob Newell said.
Private land could be considered if owners granted permission, he said.
The mayor said the hunts have been successful, but they're just a start. Councilman John Kelly agreed.
"There's property all over town that are homing places for deer," he said. "Unless you harvest some of those deer out, the population's just going to continue to explode."
Another strategy the city may look at is changing the dates of the harvest. Currently, it must follow state guidelines, opening in September and closing Dec. 31.
Newell said that's one of the provisions the city wants to include in its application to participate in West Virginia's home rule program. September is too warm for deer hunting, he said, so the city could look at starting the season in November and running it through February.
The city offers 30 deer-hunting permits, but 2013 was the first time all of them were used.
"All 30 were handed out this year," said Todd Goodwin, with the city engineering department.
"In 2011, we had I was thinking about 25 people. I don't even think we gave away 20 permits in the second year."
Kelly said despite increasing interest, it isn't practical or safe to expand the number of permits if the area is limited just to the 93 acres in the Johnson T. Janes area.