The deer culling program in Woodside Plantation has been suspended until a revised wildlife management plan from the property owners association can be submitted to and approved by the City of Aiken and a wildlife manager.
City of Aiken officials met with the president of the Woodside Plantation Property Owners Association on Friday to discuss several safety issues concerning the deer cull, such as the locations of shooting zones, proximity of shooting zones to inhabited properties and post-culling cleanup.
The property owners association has the option to submit a revised wildlife management plan for city approval in order for the culling to continue.
"The city and wildlife manager will review this plan with the primary objective being the safety of residents," said City Manager Stuart Bedenbaugh.
Should the property owners association decide to submit a new plan, the city and wildlife manager must deem all the proper criteria is met before continuation of the cull is granted.
"The POA is going to be the initial vetter," Bedenbaugh said. "They know what our criteria is and we're going to go behind them and look at it."
The current S.C. Department of Natural Resources permit obtained by the Woodside Plantation Property Owners Association to conduct the cull allows harvesting deer until March 1.
The Friday meeting came about after Andrea Gregory, City Council member for District 5, visited Woodside residents Tuesday to address pools of blood left behind by deer dispatched by sharpshooters and subsequently requested a halt to the culling until an agreement between culling parties and the city could take place.
Officials participating in the Friday meeting included Bedenbaugh, Gregory, City Council member for District 4 Ed Girardeau, Aiken Mayor Rick Osbon, Aiken Public Safety Chief Charles Barranco, City Wildlife Manager Paul Johns and Woodside Property Owners Association President Charlie Call.
The contractor conducting the deer cull participated in the meeting via telephone, Bedenbaugh said.
The culling has resulted in 60 deer being harvested, and the last deer culling took place at 4 a.m. Tuesday, Bedenbaugh said.
The deer have been processed and the meat donated to charities, as the S.C. DNR permit requires.
Bedenbaugh said the city knew there would be "scrutiny to the (deer culling) process" and the city and parties involved with the culling tried to be as "transparent as possible."
"It was new ground for all of us," Bedenbaugh said. "I think our city staff and the wildlife manager applied the ordinance as written. I understand both sides of the coin in terms of whether you're in favor of it or not. It's just something we work with within our perimeter so we can address calls and concerns as they arise."
Girardeau reiterated his Thursday comment about his concern on the recent deer culling cleanup issue.
"Everybody's safety is the utmost importance, and we want to be sure about that more than anything," Girardeau said.
Gregory did not immediately return a request for comment Friday.
Gregory said Wednesday that "the safety of our citizens is at the forefront of this whole thing."