MOUNDSVILLE — A Moundsville man worried about large herds of deer congregating in residential areas seeks the city’s help to stop people from inviting them into town. And the city is in the process of obliging him.
The city’s policy subcommittee discussed the matter Tuesday night and eventually ordered city attorney Thomas White to draft an ordinance banning the feeding of wild animals on the ground. City manager Rick Healy said Weirton’s ordinance was the basis for the council’s discussion. While Moundsville has an ordinance regulating the feeding of poultry, it would extend the ordinance to include wildlife. This comes after resident Cary Baird discussed the matter before council last week.
“Mr Baird’s complaint is of course the trigger for this, but my understanding is that…when they did the previous animal ordinance, they discussed it and didn’t include wildlife in the ordinance. This is going to broaden it.”
The ordinance will be presented to the committee at its April meeting before it goes to council vote.
Baird spoke during a public comment last week to express his concern about the local deer population. Baird said some neighbors had left food for the deer, causing more to wander into the neighborhood. This, Baird said, could pose a danger to motorists and families alike. Baird said he was talking about the North Highland Avenue area.
Baird recalled a recent morning where he saw a neighbor shaking a bucket of grain to attract deer, counting four deer in the yard and four more in the nearby woods. Once, Baird said, he saw a herd of 24 deer walking across the yard.
“Such behavior not only causes nuisance to the people nearby, but also poses a health and safety risk to the deer and a health and safety risk to the neighborhood, allowing one person to view wildlife up close to their home,” Baird the council said.
“Deer and other wildlife that are fed in such a way depend on that food source, but as this is not a complete source of livelihood for the deer, they forage nearby for food. In this case, feeding they themselves with adjacent flower beds, fruit trees, etc.”
Baird discussed the dangers deer pose to the area, ranging from close conversations with motorists, to the danger of pets and people being attacked and trampled, to bacteria and parasites present in their waste.
“Since the deer are not afraid of people, … let deer walk on our porch to eat plants in our hanging baskets,” he continued. “We’ve seen them standing against our neighbor’s house, squeezing through their bushes to eat. This can be potentially dangerous, as deer will attack and stomp a person if someone unknowingly walked up to them and cornered them.
“Another problem with wildlife is the health problem associated with deer droppings. Our yard in the immediate path of this gentleman’s backyard is filled with deer droppings. There is no way of knowing what bacteria and parasites are present in it. Last summer my dogs both got sick with an unusual parasite that shouldn’t have been present within the city limits. We can only guess that this was due to the deer coming through.”
Baird said he couldn’t find any city, county, or state ordinances banning the feeding of wildlife in Moundsville. He did, however, refer to municipal ordinances in both Wheeling and Weirton, on the subject, which impose fines or jail time as punishment.