Deer god, it's back.
After removing the matter from the agenda last month, the Aiken City Council on Monday evening is set to discuss a code amendment allowing guns to be shot inside city limits if used for permitted and apprised wildlife culls.
The change would be effective citywide. But the topic was seemingly brought to City Council's attention by the Woodside Plantation Property Owners Association, which has complained of repeated damages to property caused by deer in the gated neighborhood.
Earlier this year, the Woodside Plantation community voted in favor of killing and harvesting deer in the area as a means of thinning the herd and thus hopefully reducing damage.
"Woodside wishes to actively manage our deer herd via the use of sharpshooting," reads a presentation included in City Council's Monday meeting packet. Doing so, though, is currently illegal in the city.
A cull like that in Aiken requires a permit from the S.C. Department of Natural Resources and additionally requires the permit be filed with the Aiken Department of Public Safety, according to amendment language prepared for City Council. Both Public Safety Chief Charles Barranco and the city's attorney, Gary Smith, have signed off on the wording.
City Council member Ed Girardeau has described prospective culls as a "supervised situation" and "not open season." Girardeau's district includes portions of the sprawling Woodside Plantation. Similarly, City Manager Stuart Bedenbaugh has emphasized that a trained, licensed team would handle the operation – not a neighborhood patrol.
Wildlife management practices are backed by state law.
A deer-spotting survey conducted in September 2018 produced a report stating there was a "high population of deer" throughout the Woodside community.
"A deer population of this density can lead to human/deer conflicts including deer-vehicle accidents and browse damage to landscape plants," reads the report, which was handled by Folk Land Management Inc.
Deer culls are nothing revolutionary in South Carolina. Similar efforts have played out in the Lowcountry, namely around Hilton Head.
That doesn't mean they're not controversial, though. Talk of the potential change has sparked heated debates on social media, among other public forums.
City Council meets at the Municipal Building, 214 Park Ave. S.W. A work session to discuss the cull-enabling amendment will be held after an executive session, which starts at 5 p.m.
City Council member Andrea Gregory requested the work session.
City Council's regular meeting begins at 7 p.m.