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'Not an easy decision': Tega Cay neighbors split on how to deal with rising deer population

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TEGA CAY, S.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – On any day in Tega Cay, you may see a deer hiding in the shade or roaming around neighborhoods.

Neighbors say the rising population of deer in the area is alarming, and the city is almost split down the middle of what should be done about it.

“Accidents impact have gone up; we’ve have reported cases of the deer harassing pets and children and the biggest complaints that people have is droppings from them defecating in their backyards,” said Tega Cay councilman Scott Shirley.

One solution on the table is hiring sharpshooters to decrease the population. 

Mary Ickert says there’s got to be a better way.

“It’s a bonus to have deer in our yard,” she said. “We do have a lot of deer in Tega Cay, there is a lot of deer in the area, and homeowners who spend a lot of time gardening, invest in their plants, their landscape, are frustrated that they put in on this work and the deer come and eat it, and they have nothing to show for it.”

But Scott Normand feels differently. 

He says although he loves the deer, sharp shooting may be the best option.

“The problem now here with the overpopulation, they’re doing more harm than they are good,” he said. “They’re getting a horrible disease that makes their legs fall off; they’re just massively out of control, and so as we’ve understood the options that are out there, sharpshooting them is the best, most cost-effective, most humane way to go about approaching this.”

South Carolina department of natural resources biologists conducted two deer spotlight surveys: one in March and the other in early September. 

The March survey found at least 700 deer in the area. 

Six months later, the city’s population increased to at least 850 deer.

“On the peninsula here, which is about 5.5 acres, we should have about 96 deer,” said councilman Shirley. “After our last count last week, we’re pushing 900 now, so nearly 9 or 10 times more than what we should have.”

City officials sent out a public information survey to neighbors with three options for handling the problem.

The city could do nothing and allow them to continue to populate, hire sharpshooters through the d-n-r, relocate them to another part of the state, or put the female deer on birth control to slow the population.

“There’s a way to coexist with them; there’s deer repellent plants if you’re a gardener or you’re someone that really enjoys planting their hostas or roses or all of that, learn other ways to deter them maybe back into the woods,” Ickert said. She also suggested that neighbors stop feeding the deer because that makes them more comfortable.

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Shirley says, “it’s not an easy decision; we don’t want to kill animals; we would certainly want to avoid that if we could. We’re going to make the decision that’s in the city’s best interest as well as the deer population’s best interest, and we’re going to do the job that they elected us to do.”



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