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The great deer debate of Hendersonville

The great deer debate of Hendersonville


When it comes to controlling the deer population in Hendersonville, there is no clear-cut solution, according to Don Ames, a member of the city’s Deer Committee.

On the one hand, it had been suggested to send out sharpshooters with night vision goggles to hunt down the deer. Whereas, others have always demanded that the deer be left alone.

But in the end, some see education as a way to mediate the problem.

“I think most people feel the herds have increased,” Ames said. “I had 23 out in my yard this morning that stopped by for breakfast. I don’t know if we’re going to be able to do anything about it other than information teaching.”

The Deer Committee hasn’t met in a few months and is waiting on another aerial survey conducted by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Association.

“We’ll compare the original survey with a second survey to see if we had a growth in herd, which a lot of people think has gotten bigger,” Ames said. “But we want to substantiate that number.”

Up until Dec. 31 there was a temporary ban on feeding the deer. The Board of Mayor and Aldermen tabled a discussion on a permanent ban until the next meeting. However, officials lack confidence in the ban for various reasons.

“Banning residents from feeding deer is unenforceable,” said Ward 3 Alderman Arlene Cunningham. “If they put out food they could say it’s for other animals. The police have more important things to do and enforce.”

Ames agreed, saying that police aren’t going into people’s backyards.

Ward 6 Alderman Matthew Stamper was a member of the Deer Committee at its inception.

“If we put something on the books it puts more on the police officers’ plate when they have to deal with more serious issues,” Stamper said.

Perhaps, however, education is the best solution to take, according to some who spoke with the Sumner Home Page.

“I think more education by increasing signage and notifying residents on the city’s website is something we can do now,” Stamper said. “I would like to see the Deer Committee continue to monitor aerial surveys to see if there has been a significant growth.”

Vice-Mayor Hamilton Frost, a Ward 5 alderman, said the city must educate its citizens on why feeding the deer “makes things worse.”

Drastic measures, such as culling the herd, is something Cunningham would toss aside if the Deer Committee proposed such a solution.

“I voted against that type of action and I’ll vote against it again,” she said. “I don’t think we have a real problem. I’m relying on the experts that did the study. I come from a very populated deer state from New Jersey and Pennsylvania. I don’t think there’s any perfect solution other than what’s been done.”

Frost agreed that there is not a “finite solution.”

“We have one of two options,” he said. “We can forget about it and do the best we can with education, or we can begin culling the population and that is a very unpopular solution.”
Ames knows firsthand how unpopular the culling solution really is.

“Early on, I got some horrible phone calls from people who said I wasn’t a Christian and that I was going to Hell, and that the deer were here first,” Ames said.

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