Deer (copy) (copy)

Woodside Plantation residents have repeatedly complained about deer overpopulation and related damages, according to Aiken City Council documents.

The Aiken City Council took no action Monday night on a potential code change that would enable the culling of deer in the Woodside Plantation gated neighborhood.

City Council unanimously agreed to remove the matter – amending city code to allow guns to be shot within city limits if used for authorized culls – from an already hefty meeting agenda. Mary Shultz, the Woodside Plantation Property Owners Association president, earlier in the day emailed City Manager Stuart Bedenbaugh asking for a continuation.

Shultz told the Aiken Standard the pause was needed to better prepare materials. The matter will be brought up at future meetings.

The Woodside Plantation community earlier this year voted in favor of killing and harvesting deer in the area, an apparent attempt to redress repeat complaints of deer overpopulation and resultant damage. There have been 25 car-deer "incidents" in recent years, according to a presentation included in City Council's Monday meeting packet. Exactly what qualifies as an incident is not immediately clear.

"Woodside wishes to actively manage our deer herd via the use of sharpshooting," the presentation continues.

The vote passed by nearly 600, according to City Council documents. But the property association did not consult the city before the mail-in referendum, and the current code prevents such action from moving forward.

A deer-spotting survey done last year produced a report stating there was a "high population of deer" throughout the Southside community. City Council member Ed Girardeau last week said he understands "the problem," emphasizing that the state natural resources department would provide oversight and that a cull would be the furthest thing from "open season."

Girardeau's district, the fourth, includes portions of Woodside Plantation.

Wildlife management practices are supported by state law. Similar thinning – however controversial – has played out in the Lowcountry, particularly near Hilton Head. Results of those attempts were included in City Council's packet.

Aiken Department of Public Safety Chief Charles Barranco and city attorney Gary Smith have approved the code-changing language.

An urban deer management document is available online.

Colin Demarest is the government and Savannah River Site reporter with the Aiken Standard. Follow him on Twitter: @demarest_colin