Legal Deer Hunting...In Fairfax City?

At its meeting this week, the City Council will discuss possibly allowing legal deer hunting with bows and arrows in certain areas to help control the deer population.

This article was originally published on June 10, 2013.

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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Swampfox July 03, 2013 at 11:05 AM
Fairfax County has conducted deer management programs for decades. Some of their recent observations: "We experience an unacceptable number of deer-vehicle collisions resulting in deaths, injuries and major property damage. Owners of commercial agricultural and nursery enterprises suffer substantial damage." "In many areas of the county, deer routinely leave their enclaves of "natural" habitat to forage in nearby gardens and yards, causing widespread damage to landscaping and thus major economic loss to property owners." " A 125-pound deer requires approximately 6.5 pounds of forage per day, or some 2,370 pounds of vegetation per year." "Many of our parklands and stream valleys show severe browse lines, nearlytotal eradication of understory and loss of numerous species upon which thecontinuous process of woodland regeneration is dependent." "The recent emergence of epizootic hemorrhagic disease, a viral disease fatal to deer but posing no threat to humans, may be a significant factor in natural reduction of the deer (over) population over the next several years." "Archery hunting has proven an effective and acceptable means of deer control in residential areas where use of firearms is deemed too hazardous. Archery is a quiet and short-range method, with most deer being taken within less than 100 feet." Hope this is helpful.
Diana Altoft July 14, 2013 at 08:58 AM
Ok, I'm confused. The Patch reported last week this meeting took place, could not be resolved and it was decided to ban deer hunting in the city. Which report is correct?
Jennifer van der Kleut (Editor) July 14, 2013 at 09:08 AM
Diana - this is an old article that was written in mid-June before the first council discussion took place. The most recent article that says the council could not come to an agreement on allowing hunting and therefore decided to ban it instead, is accurate and the most current.
Diana Altoft July 14, 2013 at 10:03 AM
I could see it was originally posted some time ago. But why would you post old news in today's Patch? Especially when there is current news on this subject that was posted earlier this week. That's where the confusion came from. I enjoy reading the daily developments of what is going on in the city but would be nice if we could keep it current. Appreciate the effort that goes into keeping us informed! I am sure it isn't an easy undertaking.
Jennifer van der Kleut (Editor) July 14, 2013 at 10:41 AM
Hmm, Diana I'm not sure what you mean...I receive a copy of each morning's newsletter and this article didn't appear in it today. It's possible you received an alert because someone posted a new comment to it? How did you see it in today's Patch?


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