This town council is a tick’s best friend. That became apparent Monday night during a public hearing on whether the town should approve an urban deer hunt.
Despite information from the manager of Duke Forest about the explosion of the deer population there and efforts to control it, the disastrous environmental effects of an out-of-control deer population in Chapel Hill, and the potential for deer-borne diseases from ticks, the attitude of council members Laurin Easthom, Sally Greene and Penny Rich seemed to be that they’d like to have all that information in front of them before they ignore it.
Deer are a great place for ticks to meet and mate, said Carl Williams, a veterinarian with the N.C. Division of Public Health. The deer population provides a free ride for those ticks — a tick transit system, as it were — and in Chapel Hill that population has mushroomed in recent years, as council member and gardener Ed Harrison acknowledged.
Even so, Easthom, Greene and Rich were more concerned about the public perception of Chapel Hill should a deer hunt proceed rather than the comfort, safety and welfare of its residents. Even Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt said he didn’t want the public relations nightmare that was the deer cull in Governors Club to visit his town.
Del Snow spoke to the council and called a deer cull “a blotch on the town of Chapel Hill.” At one point it sounded as if some opposed a deer hunt because it would be bad for tourism. So a public safety issue devolved into a question of what people might think of the town if it took care of its growing problem.
Jim Ward reminded fellow council members that there was a danger in doing nothing. Given the circumlocutions that council members went through to come up with an ordinance, or resolution as some requested, there is nothing but delay coming down the line on this issue.
Meanwhile, the deer population will grow – one expert said it can double every two years – and the ticks grow fat and happy and enjoy the ride while this council does nothing.