City on track to re-enact deer-feeding ordinance

City leaders voted on first reading June 26 to re-enact a deer feeding ordinance within the Hendersonville city limits. TENA LEE

An ordinance that prohibits the intentional feeding of deer within the Hendersonville city limits and imposes a $50 fine for those who do feed deer, easily passed a first reading of the city’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen on June 26.

Oliver Barry, chairman of the city’s Deer Monitoring and Control Committee, said the ordinance was recommended by the committee as well as the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, the U. S. Department of Agriculture and Hendersonville Police Department Commander Paul Harbsmeier who tracks deer-car collisions for the city.

A similar ordinance was in effect from July 1, 2016 until Dec. 31, 2017 when it expired due to a sunset clause. No citations were issued during that time period, according to court records and HPD.

Citing more than 75 car-deer crashes a year within the city as well as complaints from residents about deer eating plants and shrubbery, Barry urged leaders to re-enact the ordinance without an expiration date this time around.

“We still have an overpopulation of deer,” he said.

“The reason [the ordinance] is coming back is because the USDA recommends we have a non-deer feeding ordinance in the city,” said Ward 4 Alderman Steve Brown.  Brown added that the ordinance was recommended as part of a comprehensive strategy to eliminate the negative impact of the city’s deer population.

“It’s very unhealthy for the animals,” Brown added. “So what we want to do is just put this in place. If you have a neighbor or someone who’s feeding deer, please ask them not to do that.”

According to the ordinance, “no person shall place or permit to be placed on the ground or within five feet above the ground surface any grain, fodder, salt or mineral licks, fruit vegetables, nuts, hay or other edible materials, which may be reasonably expected to intentionally result in deer feeding unless items are screened or protected in a manner that prevents deer from feeing on them.”

A violation of the ordinance is punishable by a $50 fine.

The legislation passed 11 to 1 with Alderwoman Arlene Cunningham voting against it.

“It’s an overreach of government and it’s unenforceable in my opinion,” said Cunningham. “Also, I think our police have better things to do than go after old ladies who are feeding deer.”

A second and final vote is scheduled for July 10.

The city’s Deer Monitoring and Control Committee will meet next at 6 p.m. on July 23 in Conference Room 2 at Hendersonville City Hall. Meetings are open to the public.

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