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South Charleston to consider urban deer hunt

SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- South Charleston will begin studying the possibility of adopting an urban deer hunt, the mayor announced Thursday night.

More than 20 residents attended a meeting earlier Thursday to discuss an "infestation" of deer in the Thousand Oaks community and Weberwood area of the city, said Councilman Jeff Means.

"Where I live it's not unusual to look out and see six or eight deer," said Means, who lives on Ashlawn Drive. "The other night, two bucks were hooked up [by their antlers] and woke us up."

Residents who attended the meeting, conducted by state Division of Natural Resources officers, showed photos of deer caught in fences and ruined vegetation in yards, Means said.

"There's a lot of car accidents and [the deer] are starting to become so domesticated they don't run from people or dogs," he said.

About two years ago, residents from the same residential neighborhoods, which border the West Virginia Regional Technology Park and are surrounded by woods, asked the city to look into the deer problem.

At the time, Mayor Frank Mullens and Police Chief Brad Rinehart opposed the idea, citing the number of homes in close quarters and few tracts of land large enough for a hunt to take place.

However, Mullens said Thursday that something must be done about the overwhelming number of deer.

"It will take a lot of thought, and some calls I get oppose it. It's a divisive issue, but we have to take the time to at least discuss it," he said.

Mullens has asked Charleston Mayor Danny Jones about the deer hunt in Charleston, which resulted in the death of 93 deer last year, a city record that improved 2010's total of 61.

A committee will be formed to study the issue, Mullens said. DNR officials recommended that South Charleston adopt the controlled hunt, he said.

"People need to understand sometimes hunting is a much more humane scenario," he said. "I'm not a hunter, but it's better than letting them overpopulate and starve to death."

In other business, council passed an ordinance to update the city's personnel policy to set guidelines for city email accounts. Per state law, local governments are required to maintain emails and release them as public information.

Firefighters and other city employees came up with the idea to update the policy after attending a seminar on using the Internet responsibly, Mullens said.

The city is also working on an ordinance to specify the use of social media guidelines for city employees.

Mullens said the proposed changes would serve as an education lesson for employees who may not be aware that some of the things they say online can come back to haunt them.Reach Kate White at kate.white@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1723.


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