Wheeling Park Commission to ‘monitor’ feedback for deer culling event
Wheeling Park Commission President & CEO Robert Peckenpaugh said the group is “monitoring” the response to the upcoming deer culling at Oglebay Resort on a daily basis while “giving feedback appropriately.”
To curb the park’s growing deer population, The Oglebay Urban Deer Culling will allow participants selected through a lottery system to use hunting bows to kill deer in designated zones of the property from Nov. 6-8. During the event, archers will participate in the culling from a tree stand in their designated zone to ensure the safety of others.
In a release last week, the commission said that, according to the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, Oglebay’s deer population is five times the optimal amount per square mile for the region, presenting a safety concern for both resort guests and the deer herd.
During Monday’s Wheeling Park Commission meeting, Peckenpaugh explained that since the event’s announcement a week ago, they have been monitoring the “one week of conversation” among the general public. He said feedback has been received “primarily through social media and telephone calls” alongside “a few emails here and there.”
With an “excess of 700 comments,” which Peckenpaugh said could be “whittled down by 50%” due to people making multiple comments, he explained the responses have been varied across platforms.
“Depending on whose page you’re on or what news outlet, you know, there are different people that have weighed in,” said Peckenpaugh. “I would say that on individual sites, it’s 50/50 ‘for’ or ‘against,’ whereas the public sites like the news sites, it tends to be a little bit more in the ‘for’ category.”
Apart from the response from the general public, Peckenpaugh also addressed the Freedom of Information Act request for the Wheeling Park Commission from the Toriseva Law Group regarding the deer culling. The firm is asking for surveys, studies or other data about the park’s deer population and other information regarding the planned culling. He explained that the commission is “currently putting together the coordinating force” for the report.
“We will get back to them appropriately while our team is still continuing to track the feedback,” added Peckenpaugh.
Commission member Justin Seibert chimed in that he had received positive feedback in regard to the event from people who had personally approached him. Peckenpaugh echoed this, adding that it had been “interesting” to see the variety of people who personally thanked him.
“Individuals that I didn’t expect to have approached me personally saying, ‘Thank you, it’s a long time coming,'” said Peckenpaugh
Commission Chair R. Gregory McDermott added that “urban deer hunting has been occurring in the city of Wheeling for the past 35 years.” He said that he also learned that individual property owners within the city limits can apply for a permit that allows the property owner to “actually hunt deer on his or her own property.”
“I don’t know all the ins and outs but was surprised to learn that,” said McDermott. “It’s been an educational experience, and urban deer hunts are more prevalent than I realized at the outset.”