Nonprofit group says more than 60 percent of meat donated to area charities
By Kaitlin Mayhew -- firstname.lastname@example.org
FRONT ROYAL -- The Town Council heard a presentation about a program to manage deer population in the area by recruiting a nonprofit bow hunting organization at Monday's work session.
Front Royal police Lt. Clint Keller led the presentation, saying that after much research, he believes bringing in Suburban Whitetail Management of Northern Virginia is the best option.
The organization is a nonprofit 501(c) 3 that has been providing deer management services to the Northern Virginia area since 1997.
Fred Franzel of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries supplemented the presentation with information on why it is inadvisable to have a very dense herd in town.
"White-tailed deer are highly adaptable animals, they can move anywhere there's food and nothing bad happening to them," he said. "The only population control in town is vehicle strikes."
Besides vehicle accidents, Franzel cited property damage as well as health risks involving an increase in Lyme disease. Deer are the main hosts for deer ticks that are the carriers of Lyme disease.
"Deer also have tremendous reproductive ability," he said.
Does have been known to have twins and even triplets, according to Franzel, and they can reproduce before reaching 1 year of age.
The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries has a management plan in effect that lists Warren County as one of the areas that needs deer population reduction.
"We're not saying wipe the deer out, but we are saying manage them in a reasonable way," Franzel said.
Each archer who hunts with Suburban Whitetail Management of Northern Virginia pays membership fees, follows certain safety regulations and passes yearly qualifying exams.
Keller said that he looked into many deer reduction options, including urban archery, but this organization was the only one he found with strict and enforceable regulations that it holds each member accountable for.
"We are a highly qualified, highly selective group of bow-hunters," said Whitney Wagoner, a member of Suburban Whitetail Management of Northern Virginia since it began.
More than 60 percent of the meat the members bring in is donated to charities in the area.
"The people I've talked to say this program works," Keller said "This is the safest way and there's a need for it."
Mayor Tim Darr said he supported the idea, but said it may be helpful to add some information to the town website on how to live with deer as well.
"We do have a deer problem, everyone is aware of that," he said, adding that the management idea would be back at another work session.
Frenzel said that the archery hunting is only part of the solution package.
"We have to get folks to stop the feeding [of deer]," he said.