HENDERSONVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The City of Hendersonville has a deer dilemma that has led to a divisive battle over how to thin out and control an increasing population.
Neighbors are reporting increased vehicle damage, property damage and concern for landscape because the deer are in such high numbers.
“There are too many,” Hendersonville resident Mary Amos said. “I have nearly hit them many times going into my neighborhood.”
As a result of increased complaints from citizens, the Hendersonville board of alderman created a special committee to study the problem of White Tail deer and what can be done to reduce the population.
The Urban Deer Committee was formed of members from the board of aldermen, Hendersonville police, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and private citizens.
“If people have an opinion on this issue, it is a very strong opinion,” Hendersonville Vice-Mayor Scott Sprouse said. “We have some people in the community who say take no action and then you have some people who say take any action necessary including opening up hunting.”
The committee looked at possible solutions including installing deer crossing signs in high risk areas, using chemical repellents, using scare devices or establishing a chemo-sterilization program.
In the end, the committee recommended contracting with a USDA approved company to use high powered rifles with a silencer to kill female deer over the course of a few weeks in the winter.
According to the recommendation from the Urban Deer Report, the method has been used in other states.
It would be a first for Tennessee.
The deer would then be processed and the meat distributed to food pantries and homeless shelters around Hendersonville.
Supporters of the plan said it’s the most cost effective way to handle the over-population. The estimated cost of the program is $18,000 annually, plus the cost for processing each deer.
The report said the cost of the program would be offset by lower incidence of recovering carcasses and less equipment use by public safety officials.
The operation involves surveying to see how large the deer population is by using a helicopter to assess the area.
Then the city would set a goal for the deer population.
After rutting, in January, the contracted company would partner with property owners to bait the area for a few weeks so the deer become accustom to feeding in the area.
On an appointed evening the company would use high powered rifles with silencers attached to shoot and kill does.
That would continue until around March.
Some opponents, however; call the idea barbaric.
“Killing them doesn’t seem right at all,” Amos said. “How else do humans control animal populations?”
Others have so far opposed the plan because of unanswered questions by the report.
Ward 5 Alderman Darrell Woodcock’s General Committee was the only committee not to approve the plan for the full commission.
“There were a lot of unanswered questions,” he said.” First there are a number of cities that used this program yet the committee did not take the time to ask the city how this program went.”
He continued, “What is the end game? We have a very small population of Hendersonville that is affected by the deer.”
Sprouse added there are questions about how the hunters will carry out the hunts.
“How are they going to guarantee the deer are going to stay in the kill area and we are not going to have an animal that wanders off into someone else’s yard to die,” he said. “I would like to review that in more meetings and I would like to get more input from or citizens.”
Aldermen have said they will not formally take up the issue until after the November election.
News 2’s attempts to reach members of the Urban Deer Committee were not successful.