- The Washington Times - Monday, October 14, 2002

YORKTOWN, Va. (AP) Plastic netting covers many plants outside of Fred Jones' Edgehill home. Some shrubs weren't so lucky, like the azalea bush chewed down to a leafless stump.
Empty pots lie on their sides, a reminder of the flowers that once lived there.
Deer have overrun Mr. Jones' neighborhood, eating plants and damaging property.
"Everything's got a crew cut," he said. "They just go down and eat everything."
Mr. Jones and two of his neighbors turned to the state for help, asking for a permit that allows hunters armed with bows and arrows to kill deer to thin the herd. The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries issued the permit recently.
Mr. Jones' neighborhood isn't the only one to receive state permits to shoot deer outside of hunting season. The department has issued 20 permits statewide with more than a third of them going to York and James City counties on the Peninsula.
Some Edgehill residents say bowhunting in a neighborhood is safety hazard, rather than a solution for their deer problem.
Margaret Hines started a petition against the deer hunt, and she said she has collected 39 signatures. She said she does not like the idea of strangers walking behind her house at night.
"You're just flirting with disaster when you're hunting that close to people, pets and personal property," she said.
For example, pets or early morning walkers and joggers could be shot mistakenly, she said.
Wildlife Management Services Inc., a group of about 12 bowhunters, will thin the herd in Edgehill under the permit. Mr. Jones, who does not hunt, contacted the group. Kevin Rhind, director of the group, said his hunters would not hunt on anyone's property without permission.
Mr. Rhind said his group hunts carefully, taking steps to ensure people's safety. He said he requires his hunters to shoot from roofs, trees or elevated stands at least 10 feet above the ground, meaning an arrow that misses a deer hits the ground. The hunters would hunt deer only at night, excluding Sundays and holidays, he added. The group uses lights to make sure their target is a deer. If they're not sure, Mr. Rhind said, they won't shoot.
No one in the group has shot anyone accidentally, he added.
Miss Hines said these precautions won't matter. The Edgehill houses are too close together to be sure that hunting is safe, she said.
Another Edgehill resident, Pamela King, said she plans to move out of the neighborhood because of the hunting issue. She faults the county for not having a law prohibiting bow-firing in a subdivision.
Others in the neighborhood are against the hunting. Mr. Jones visited 129 houses that make up about a third of Edgehill. Residents in 65 of those houses said they wouldn't allow hunting on their property, but people in 56 of the homes said hunters could come onto their property to retrieve deer that run there after being shot elsewhere.
Even if Mr. Jones hadn't obtained a permit, hunters still could kill deer in Edgehill because deer-hunting season with bows and arrows recently began. Only hunters with Mr. Jones' permission may hunt under his permit.
Wildlife officials said the hunt was necessary to thin the herd because the animals have no natural predators, allowing their numbers to grow quickly.
Mr. Rhind's hunters aren't allowed to keep any parts of the deer. The meat goes to Hunters for the Hungry, a charity organization that redistributes the meat to food banks.
A few years ago, Yorktown resident Bryce Hollingsworth similarly organized a controlled deer hunt after opening his front door to find a deer was eating ivy off his wreath.
Someone sent him and his wife a death threat, and some people walked through the streets to have a wake for the deer.
But for the past few years, Mr. Hollingsworth said, there have been no problems and no complaints about the hunt.
"It's not that we're anti-deer," he said. "We're trying to protect people."


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