Aiken City Council considering deer culling amendment, DNR says it won't supervise

Tuesday, September 10, 2019
News 12 at 6 o'clock/NBC 26 at 7

AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) -- The city of Aiken is one step closer to allowing sharpshooting teams to come in and cull harmful animal populations inside city limits.

City council voted 4 to 2 on the first reading to amend city code in front of a packed house at a meeting Monday night.

The deer culling debate has waged on since back in March when the Woodside Plantation Property Owner's Association reached out to the city. Residents have complained about car accidents involving deer as well as damage to plants.

"We just put a fence around some of these plants, and it doesn't look like there's a problem now," Eileen Staudt said. She's been a resident of Woodside Plantation for five years.

Her home is right next to a large, wooded area. She buys plants deer don't eat.

"Does this really look like a hazardous condition that's existing in this development? I don't think so," Staudt said.

Ed Woltz, an Aiken councilman, voted against the amendment on Monday night.

Woodside Plantation says most people living in the neighborhood voted overwhelmingly to allow the deer culling. He's not so sure.

"I don't know how many of those votes were institutional votes, developers, golf course or anything like that," Woltz said.

"We can't do it just for them,"he said. "We have to realize this is going to go throughout all of Aiken. There's a lot of other subdivisions that have a deer problem."

South Carolina Department of Natural Resources grants the culling permit if the neighborhood approves it. Then, the neighborhood and sharpshooting team would handle the rest.

DNR says they would not supervise.

"So, we are gonna have a group that gets a permit decides they want to cull the deer, brings in sharpshooters," Woltz said. "Who's responsible and who does it fall back on if there's an accident?"

DNR says in 20 years there's been 7,000 deer culled in South Carolina. There's been no incidents during that time.

Some residents are calling for another neighborhood vote.

"I would hope that at some point they go back and number one do another count here in Woodside and do it only of the residents that live here," Staudt said.

The city of Aiken says they will not rush this decision. Aiken Public Safety says they will make sure the whole process is safe if the amendment is passed.

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