Deer hunting....in Fairfax City?
During a work session this Tuesday night, the City Council and Mayor will discuss the possibility of allowing limited deer hunting by bow and arrow on large tracts of land within the City, in an effort to help tame the city's overabundant deer population.
Fairfax City Mayor Scott Silverthorne told Patch, the idea came to the City as a request, specifically from the Army-Navy Country Club.
"There's no question we have a deer problem throughout the city, so the request is basically to allow, by permit, deer hunting," he explained. "It's really more of a wildlife management issue, than a hunting issue."
Mayor Silverthorne said, he realizes there are quite a few issues to take into consideration before the Council makes a decision, such as animal cruelty and moral questions related to hunting, how to enforce the rules, and whether it makes sense considering that, once the deer population is lessened and the hunting stops, it could likely just go back up again down the road.
"I have a lot of questions and a lot of concerns I need to get comfortable with before I can be supportive of this," he said.
As far as the moral questions go, Silverthorne said, his main concern is that "kills aren't guaranteed" as much with bows and arrows as they are with other means of hunting.
"So, in other words, the animals could suffer," he said.
In particular, he also wants to know that the City has thoroughly considered all other options before he lends his support to this one.
"Some people think [there are no other options], and I am hard-pressed to believe that," he said.
Therefore, at this week's work session to discuss the matter, Silverthorne said he plans to be "very vocal" in expressing his concerns and asking all of his questions.
In a staff report prepared by City Manager Bob Sisson, Sisson indicated that, currently, more than 40 counties, cities and towns in the Commonwealth of Virginia "allow some form of deer hunting to control populations in urban and suburban areas where other methods have proven ineffective or cost prohibitive."
"[Virginia code] permits localities to regulate hunting within their boundaries, but the City previously has not done so," Sisson said.
Arguing for the passage of a resolution to allow limited deer hunting by bow and arrow in Fairfax City, Sisson said, "Uncontrolled deer populations in areas without natural deer predators result in overpopulation, starvation, significant damage to trees and shrubs, and increased car/deer collisions, resulting in death/injury to vehicle occupants and deer."
Sisson's staff report includes a sample resolution he recommends the City adopt, with certain provisions, including, among others:
- Managed deer hunts are permitted only on private property of 25 acres or more (such as the Army-Navy Country Club, and only a few other areas within Fairfax City)
- The property owner must have a valid "Kill Permit," issued by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.
- Only archery equipment may be used for deer hunting.
- Discharge of an arrow is only permitted to take a deer. No arrow shall be discharged toward any animal other than a deer.
- Deer hunting is not permitted in any City park or on City-owned property without the express written permission of the City Manager.
- At least seven days prior to each and every day on which a managed hunt will be conducted, the property owner shall place warning notices at every entrance to the property and at intervals of no less than 50 yards apart on every adjacent property line. The notices shall be posted continuously for the seven days prior to, and through the conclusion of, the hunt.
- Every property owner who desires to conduct a managed deer hunt must notify the City Manager in writing of the dates and times of the proposed hunt(s) and shall submit: A copy of a valid Kill Permit for the property; a property map or plat showing the locations of fixed hunting stands; and a copy of the notices to be posted on the property.
- The City Manager shall then provide a written response approving or denying the request, and may impose additional safety restrictions specific to the requested property.
This matter will be discussed during the City Council's work session, which follows the Council's regularly-scheduled meeting, this Tuesday night, June 11, beginning at 7 p.m., in the Council Chambers in Old Town Hall, 10455 Armstrong St. in Fairfax City. Members of the public are invited to attend.
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