The guest columnist column which appeared on the editorial page of the Aiken Standard, dated Aug. 29, 2019, included some statements which were not accurate.
First, the column stated deer “are sometimes seen in the newly populated areas and at times feed on the plantings of residents.” Actually, deer are seen daily, all day long in Woodside Plantation. In a recent drive down Woodside Plantation Drive, there were 33 deer in 1 mile, standing along the side of the road. Some residents regularly have herds of 17 to 20 deer walk through their yards during the day eating shrubs, tree foliage and other plantings. They jump fences to get inside fenced areas.
Second, the column stated “there have been few reported incidents of vehicular collisions.” Property owners have reported 25 vehicular incidents involving deer over the past three years. In 2019 alone, there have been three vehicle collisions with deer; each resulting in more than $10,000 damage. Deer have walked up to humans and prodded them; deer have damaged houses; and in one case, ran into a house. Deer have walked into property owners’ garages. Deer are no longer wary of humans, which is very abnormal behavior for deer. Deer, in the numbers and behaviors exhibited in Woodside, are a safety issue.
Third, the column stated “In a recent vote, (an earlier one had failed to garner a majority).” The Woodside Plantation Property Owners Association conducted two surveys, followed by one formal ballot vote. The two surveys were done via Survey Monkey to determine the extent of the deer issue. The first survey was conducted in October 2015 with the results indicating that there was not enough support or reason to pursue any additional actions. The second survey was conducted in May 2018 and this survey provided significant evidence of a growing deer herd problem. Following that survey, a town hall was conducted with property owners to discuss the results of the survey and to determine the next steps. Following the town hall, we hired a company to conduct a deer count. Following that, we did an official ballot vote of all registered property owners and the results indicated that 1,330 votes were cast for the approval to conduct a deer harvest, while 746 votes were cast against a deer harvest. This is clearly a majority position.
Fourth, the column stated that the proposed amendment “may erode safety.” The amendment will enable communities to be safer. Driving down our streets in the dark is anything but safe, considering that deer frequently dart out in front of cars.
The proposed amendment to the City Code requires communities to obtain a permit through the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. SCDNR mandates strict regulations and sharpshooter certification regarding wildlife culling to ensure the safety of residents, including allowing culling only during the hours of 10 p.m. and 3 a.m. The sharpshooters are highly trained professionals who have safety records that are evidenced in the history of the program that has been in effect in South Carolina since 1999. At least 16 communities in South Carolina have successfully managed their deer herds via controlled culling without a single safety incident.