Deer are spreading controversy in Matthews. Some town residents are putting food in their yards and encouraging the animals to come visit. Other homeowners say the animals are a nuisance and some need to be killed.
Monday evening Matthews commissioners gave Ronald Williams permission to use a crossbow. Williams plans to hunt deer from a stand in a tree on his property at Charing Cross Drive. Commissioners also denied William’s request for permission to discharge the same weapon on Elizabeth Lane.
In Matthews, a crossbow falls under the firearm ordinance and citizens must obtain a permit to shoot within town limits.
Hunting is regulated by state laws, but Matthews commissioners have been pulled into the debate because of the town’s firearms regulations.
“We can only approve a firearms permit for the discharge of a bow and arrow,” said Matthews Mayor Jim Taylor.
To receive a permit to shoot a bow, the applicant must fill out an application, which is reviewed by the Matthews Police Department. Then the applicant must submit to an visit from an officer who will examine the position of the deer stand, look at nearby properties and determine if it is safe to discharge a bow in that location.
The Police Department then makes a recommendation to commissioners, who have the final say.
Commissioners approved Williams’ request at 101 Charing Cross Drive because they agreed there was plenty of room to shoot without endangering his neighbors or their property. But they denied his request at 803 Elizabeth Lane because they felt it was too close to neighboring properties.
They also said they didn’t want to set a precedent by issuing a permit to an applicant who didn’t own the land where the shooting would occur.
“This is the first time I can recall where it is not the property owner who is requesting the permit. This could open the door to people leasing their property for that purpose,” Taylor said.
Martha and Will Krauss own the 5-acre tract at 803 Elizabeth Lane. They run a bed and breakfast there.
The couple approached Williams about hunting on their property because the large number of deer in the area is ruining their flowers, plants and trees. They said the size of the herd is so large they are concerned about the well-being of the deer.
“Our main concern is the over population of deer. Will counted 21 in our pasture this spring. It’s not unusual to have 10 or 12 in our backyard at one time. It’s a problem that they eat our plants, but their overpopulation is a bigger problem,” Krauss said.
“The other thing that scares me is how used to people they are. We can walk within 15 feet of them and they don’t flinch. It’s not normal to be able to get that close to wildlife.”
That’s exactly what her neighbors, like Brianna Hudson, say they enjoy about the deer.
“I’m on Team Deer. I give them apples everyday. They don’t do anything to my yard. There’s no reason to shoot them,” Hudson said.
Neighbors Ed and Barbara Dement, who live in adjoining Sardis Plantation, keep a dish stocked with deer corn in the woods behind their house and say they look forward to seeing the animals pass through their yard each day.
“This isn’t about hunting. It’s about shooting fish in a barrel. We were surprised that there was a plan to slaughter semi-tame deer that have been here 20 years. They travel the same path twice a day, year after year. They are kind of like pets around here. Our community has watched them and fed them and we enjoy them,” Dement said.
Williams says their numbers are out of control.
“It’s one thing to see one or two come into your yard and eat a little bit. But my friends who live near there say they will see 10 or 15 deer at one time. They are breeding so fast, and there’s nowhere for them to go. They are going to eat themselves out of house and home,” Williams said.
Matthews resident Carol Buie-Jackson, chairwoman of the North Carolina Wildlife Federation, said that’s entirely possible.
“When you feed the deer, what you end up doing is attracting more deer and you get a higher concentration than the property can support,” Buie-Jackson said. “You start with a couple of deer and then word gets out and you get too many of them. Over population can cause disease ...
“They are losing their natural place to be, and we are finding them moving closer to us. They are native animals, but since we got rid of the wolves, there are no natural predators. The ecosystem is out of balance.”
People wanting to protect the deer told commissioners there were ways to repel deer – hair sprinkled on shrubbery, coyote urine and even slivers of Irish Spring soap placed around vegetation.
Krauss said she will continue to spray her flowers and shrubs with her homemade deer repellent – a mixture of Tabasco sauce, eggs, beef bouillon and liquid soap. But she said that will do nothing to reduce the deer population.
“We’ve lived here 40 years and we haven’t had a problem until about 15 years ago when all the development started,” Krauss said. “There’s really no good answer.”
Melinda Johnston is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Melinda? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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