Oxonian residents split over city's deer plan

By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal

OXFORD – At a public hearing on the city’s proposed deer control plan Tuesday night, residents still were of two opinions – especially about the proposed harvest of some of the animals.
Spurred by complaints from residents about damaged landscapes, collisions and deer that sleep on patios and eat potted flowers on porches, city leaders have consulted with state and federal wildlife biologists since last summer on how best to address the situation. They have since prohibited feeding deer inside city limits and recommend homeowner techniques from inedible landscaping to noise, lights and water sprinklers triggered by motion.
Leaders also have proposed a limited bowhunt this fall using experienced hunters, over age 30 in most cases, who pass written and marksmanship tests.
Some who spoke Tuesday were concerned about safety.
“I don’t want to be inadvertently shot while running in our neighborhood,” said one woman who frequently sees deer on her 5:30 a.m. jog. State deer management chief Chad Dacus noted that elevated stands would be required, limiting the possibility of accident.
The woman also asked whether she could opt out.
“This is an opt-in-only program,” said Jimmy Allgood, the city’s emergency management coordinator and head of its deer program. Hunters will be assigned only to property whose owners actually ask for their intervention.
“I’ve got 3.2 acres, and whoever wants to come, be my guest,” said Frances Smith.
Michael Hoffheimer said he likes deer and had decided against moving outside city limits because of hunting. He suggested if a deer is bothersome that residents should call police.
Dacus said even with all remedies on the table, it will be an ongoing issue.
“It’s not something we can fix tomorrow,” he said. “We’re in it for the long-haul solution.”
Aldermen are expected to vote on the plan Aug. 3.
Contact Errol Castens at (662) 281-1069 or errol.castens@djournal.com.