Council likely to allow deer hunts
City Council members appear likely to vote early next month to allow people to hunt deer inside Durham’s city limits using a bow and arrow.
The ordinance change will be part of the consent agenda for the council’s Nov. 4 business meeting, meaning members aren’t expecting any controversy on the measure.
Officials scheduled the vote after rewriting the original draft of the ordinance, making changes sought by advocates of hunting and council skeptics of the move.
Initially, administrators proposed allowing hunts on parcels with at least two acres of space.
Advocates of bow hunts urged changing the draft to allow any minimum-acreage requirement to apply to multiple tracts, presuming an archer could obtain permission from their owners.
Council members, meanwhile, had questioned whether two acres was a large enough minimum.
City Manager Tom Bonfield and his staff responded by bumping the minimum up to five acres and saying it’d be OK for a would-be hunter to meet it by obtaining permission from the owners of “one or more contiguous tracts” with space adding up to at least five acres.
Elected officials went over the new draft last week.
Their only additional tinkering with it, made at Councilwoman Diane Catotti’s request, prohibits firing an arrow within 250 feet of homes and other buildings or the boundary of the so-called “area of consent.”
Administrators had suggested a 150-foot buffer. They reasoned that hunters who use bows typically only fire over a distance of 60 to 90 feet, usually at a downward angle from a tree stand.
Catotti said a 250-foot buffer, identical in size to one in a Raleigh ordinance that allows bow hunting, “makes more sense” for a city as urbanized as Durham.
Advocates of bow hunts say they’re a quiet and low-profile way to address problems caused the overpopulation of deer.
The council has heard from a few people who oppose hunting. But results in neighboring Chapel Hill, where vehicle/deer accidents fell off after the introduction of bow hunting, suggests “we should at least give it a try,” Councilman Don Moffitt said.
The ordinance requires the city manager to report to the City Council every two years on the number of deer killed, the impact on accident statistics and on any safety issues that arise.
Administrators said the report could include recommendations for further ordinance changes “based upon the success or failure of the program.”