Lynchburg, Va., has found an interesting, seemingly unconventional way to address its deer overcrowding problem.
It doesn’t involve deer contraception or some other expensive, ineffective, “non-lethal” means of control.
It doesn’t involve spending thousands of dollars of the taxpayers’ money to hire contracted sharpshooters.
And it doesn’t require a lot of bureaucratic oversight.
What could this groundbreaking approach be, you ask?
Lynchburg is actually letting everyday hunters hunt the deer.
Can you believe it?
The news has been filled of late with stories about cities, developments and parks struggling to find ways to manage ever-growing deer populations. We ran a story just recently about Washington, D.C.’s Rock Creek Park dismissing out of hand the idea of allowing volunteer hunters to control the park’s ballooning deer herd, instead opting to use paid sharpshooters and implement an expensive deer birth control program.
Lynchburg, in contrast, allows hunting on properties where the owner has been issued either a kill permit, shotgun discharge permit, or bow discharge permit. The landowner—not the hunter—must annually apply for the appropriate permit.
Where property damage from deer is verifiable, a kill permit may be issued to the landowner if the city deems the property safe for the discharge of archery equipment or shotguns—remember again that we’re talking about hunting within the city limits. Archery hunters wishing to assist must be specifically named on the kill permit. No acreage minimums are required for issuance of kill permits. Where property damage from deer is not verifiable, archery hunting is still an option on properties where the owners have been issued a bow discharge permit or a shotgun discharge permit (for properties of 25 acres or more).
Once a landowner has that permit in hand, any hunter named on the permit can hunt antlerless deer on the property in accordance with all other Virginia hunting laws, tagging requirements and bag limits. A few other common sense rules apply, such as restrictions on shooting over roadways or sidewalks or towards buildings, but there aren’t a lot of other hoops hunters have to jump through.
The ABC affiliate in Lynchburg, WSET-TV, ran a story about this program on Feb. 7 that highlighted an organization known as “Fix Lynchburg’s Deer Problem” that is helping pair landowners with hunters to remove excess antlerless deer.
You can read/watch that story here: www.wset.com/story/16698025/bow-hunters-control-deertick-population
It’s worth noting that the group, via its Facebook page, offers two clarifications to the WSET story that help paint a more accurate picture of who they are and what they do:
1. We are NOT paid to harvest deer. We do so voluntarily and at no expense to landowners.
2. The term “licensed professional” is somewhat misleading. We are licensed according to state hunting regulations. The term “professional” typically denotes someone who is involved in a paid profession, which this is NOT.
We are extremely dedicated to what we do, we are good at it, and we strive to behave professionally in a voluntary arrangement between ourselves and our landowners.
In other words, they are everyday hunters putting their expertise to work, free of charge, for the benefit of their community. The hunters themselves gain extra hunting opportunities, the city’s deer problem is getting solved, and the venison is donated to food banks and charities though the Hunters for the Hungry program.
It’s a win-win-win for everyone.
The group says its mission is to “[bring] together Lynchburg bowhunters and landowners to safely, effectively and efficiently fix Lynchburg city’s deer population problem while saving taxpayer money for legitimate needs.”
That almost makes too much sense to be true. But if Lynchburg and other cities participating in Virginia’s Urban Archery Season can make it work, why can’t it work nationwide?