Cleveland to allow in-town bowhunting for deer in 2010
By Kathy Chaffin
CLEVELAND ó Town commissioners voted Monday to join 10 other municipalities across the state in extending bowhunting season for five weeks after the regular season ends.
Beginning on the second Saturday in January 2010, deer hunters will be able to bowhunt in the Cleveland town limits during the state’s new urban archery deer season. The extended season will be available exclusively in municipalities which opt to allow it.
“Essentially, it’s the only game in town,” said Jonathan Shaw, biologist for District VI of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, which includes Rowan and nine other counties. Shaw was at Monday night’s meeting with N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission Officer Scott Isley to answer questions about the urban archery season.
After discussing the safety aspects of bowhunting in the town limits, Cleveland commissioners voted 4-0 to apply for the extended season. Mayor Pro Tem Danny Gabriel was absent, and Mayor Jim Brown only votes in case of a tie.
“It’s kind of scary to me,” Commissioner Mary Frank “Frankie” Fleming-Adkins said when Isley and Shaw presented the extended urban archery season as a way to control the town’s growing deer population.
Commissioner John I. Steele Jr. expressed concern about “buzzing arrows” in the town.
Shaw said there wouldn’t be any buzzing arrows. If a bowhunter in a deer stand 20 to 30 feet up in a tree shoots at a deer 20 to 30 yards away, he said, the hunter is “essentially shooting down to the ground. You’re not going to hit a dog. You’re not going to hit somebody’s pet …”
The biggest safety issue with urban archery season, he said, is hunters falling out of deer stands.
Shaw and Isley said the same regulations governing hunting during the regular season, including the requirements of a hunting license and permission of the landowner, will be in effect during the urban archery season. They noted that people aren’t able to obtain a hunting license unless they’ve passed the state Hunter Safety Course.
Maj. Keith Templeton of the Enforcement Division of the N.C. Wildlife Commission office in Raleigh said Tuesday that the course, taught in a minimum of 10 hours, includes instruction on archery hunting.
“The hunters’ education program covers a wide variety of training that one would find very beneficial in hunting situations,” he said, “from outdoor first aid to survival to basic game identity, tree stand safety, the different uses of firearms and also archery equipment.”
The Central North Carolina deer hunting season, which includes Rowan and 18 other counties, allows bowhunting from Sept. 13 through Nov. 7. This applies to municipalities unless they have ordinances against bowhunting, which Cleveland does not.
During this season, however, Shaw told Cleveland commissioners that most hunters prefer to hunt on rural land. “They’re not going to hunt inside city limits,” he said.
This means that deer overpopulation in municipalities is not managed by the regular bowhunting season. Shaw said attempts to control the overpopulation with contraceptives and by trapping and relocating and spraying repellents on shrubbery or other plants eaten by deer have been either too expensive or only effective on a short-term basis.
“Hunting remains the No. 1 method of dealing with overabundant deer populations,” he said. “If deer aren’t a problem now, they will be.”
Shaw said deer moving into municipalities are causing vehicle accidents and eating residents’ shrubs and gardens.
Isley said he had seen deer crossing at Freightliner.
Board members said they had also seen deer in town. Commissioner Pat Phifer said deer are the No. 1 cause of traffic accidents.
Chief David Allen said deer had caused six to eight traffic accidents in Cleveland so far this year “with substantial damage to vehicles.” There are probably more involving minor damage that are not reported, he said.
Deer are spotted regularly crossing U.S. 70, Amity Hill Road, Third Creek Church Road and Maple and Main streets, all within the town limits. “One ran out in front of me today on Old 70,” Allen said.
Brown said the urban archery season would only apply inside the town limits. In advertising the extended season, he said, the town should “make it positive” and explain that homeowners and landowners are ultimately in control of whether bowhunting is allowed and where.
Hunters will not be allowed to hunt legally on land without the written permission of the owner.
Fleming-Adkins said it might make people nervous if a landowner or homeowner allows someone to hunt on property next to their homes.
Brown said landowners won’t give their permission for someone to hunt that close to other residences.
Isley said he didn’t expect a “whole herd of people” coming to Cleveland to hunt.
Shaw said only two North Carolina municipalities signed up for the extended urban archery season by the April 1, 2007 deadline to offer bowhunting in January: Elkin and Washington. In Elkin, 45 deer were killed by bowhunters during the five-week season, and in Washington, only 4.
He said he did not know why the number was so small in Washington.
This year, government officials in eight more municipalities voted to allow the extended season in January 2009: Locust, Middlesex, Midland, Morganton, Smithfield, Stanfield, Stokesdale and Summerfield. Shaw said he expects several more municipalities to join Cleveland in allowing the urban archery season in 2010.
“Once people understand what it is and learn more about bowhunting in general and realize it is a safe way to manage the deer population,” he said, “I think they will become more accepting.”
The deadline for applying for the 2010 urban archery season is April 1, 2009.
Names of cities and towns with the urban archery seasons and a contact phone number will be printed in the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission Hunting Regulations Digest in July. If landowners wish to allow bowhunting on their property, but do not know any hunters, they may contact the N.C. Bowhunters Association for names.
Shaw said the problem of deer overpopulation is likely to continue.
“I think the more this state grows, the bigger a problem it’s going to be,” he said. “The more the state grows, the harder it’s going to be for people to find a place to hunt, and the harder it gets to hunt, the worse our deer population is going to be.”
In 2007, he said, the estimated deer population in North Carolina was 1.3 million. “There are some areas where we absolutely have an overabundance of deer, particularly around urban areas,” he said, “but also in some of our rural areas.” Farmers in areas of overpopulation often have their crops damaged by deer.