Council OKs bow hunting on city property

Published 8:53 am Saturday, August 15, 2009

FRANKLIN—Crop damage. Vehicle accidents. Encroaching into neighborhoods. These are just some of the problems residents say are caused by a rapidly increasing deer population.

“If we don’t do something with the deer, they’re going to continue to do something to us,” said Councilwoman Mary Hilliard. She referred to the deer population in Franklin and the surrounding areas as an “infestation.”

However, bow hunters may soon be able to help control the deer population by hunting on city-owned properties throughout Franklin, thanks to action taken at Monday night’s City Council meeting.

Franklin is one of 26 jurisdictions in Virginia that participate in the urban archery season, according to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. The urban archery season runs from Sept. 5 to Oct. 2 and from Jan. 4, 2010, to March 27, 2010.

In order to participate in the urban archery season, hunters must obtain permission to hunt from the landowner, as well as permission from adjacent landowners to retrieve deer from their property. City-owned land is problematic because there is no ordinance that bans bow hunting on city property, but there is also no one authorized to give the required permission.

City Attorney Taylor Williams said that he received a request from someone who wanted to hunt on the Rawls Farm property, which is owned by the city. Williams identified two other large parcels of land owned by the city where this might be an issue, Pretlow Industrial Park and the area known as “Pin Point” along the Blackwater River.

Vice Mayor Raystine Johnson expressed concern about the proximity of the sites to recreational facilities and homes.

“I am just concerned that children are going to wander out,” she said. Johnson and councilman Benny Burgess were the only two council members to vote against allowing bow hunting on city owned property.

The city rents some properties to farmers who work the land, and they will likely be allowed to give permission to hunters.

Williams is currently drafting a list of restrictions that the city wants to impose on bow hunting on city owned property. However, if council members decide that they aren’t pleased, they may decide not to allow bow hunting on city property.

If the city decides ultimately not to allow bow hunting on city property, private landowners could still allow hunting on their land.

“The city is already committed to this urban archery season,” Williams wrote in a memo to council members. “The city will continue to participate in the urban archery season until it notifies the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, in writing, of its desire to withdraw from the program.”