Lenoir may let residents shoot problem animals

Aug. 11, 2013 @ 08:09 AM

Homeowners in Lenoir who have recurring problems with coyotes, geese, deer or other wild animals don’t have many options.

But soon they may gain the ultimate solution: Blast ‘em.

The Lenoir City Council has scheduled a public hearing for 6 p.m. Aug. 20 on a proposal to allow the Lenoir Police Department to issue a permit allowing an individual to shoot and kill an animal. Those applying would have to submit to a background check and would have to already have a valid hunting license or hunter-safety course certificate from North Carolina. On the application they would have to say what kind of animal is the problem, the damage being done, and the type of firearm and ammunition that would be used to kill it. If the chief of police approves it, the permit would have an expiration date.

Currently, only police officers are allowed to shoot firearms inside the city limits.

Complaints of wild animals damaging property have been on the rise in Lenoir, and Police Chief Scott Brown said three calls in one week spurred him to look for a solution. He contacted other police chiefs in North Carolina, taking 20-25 similar ordinances and blending them into one proposal that he felt would work for Lenoir.

Greg Greene, Caldwell County Animal Control director, said the department gets calls daily for raccoons and opossums, and a couple times a week, it will get a call about a coyote.

Complaints of coyotes, deer and geese have been on the rise over the past few months, Brown said, and currently, there isn’t much that can be done about it.

“In considering the options, we discovered that they were very limited,” Brown said, adding that the department is trying to develop a system that will supply “some kind of avenue to solve those problems.”

If someone is having problems with a wild animal and calls Caldwell County Animal Control, that agency won’t intervene unless the animal appears to have rabies or pose a danger to the public, Greene said. Otherwise, the caller gets referred to the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, or the property owner could call a private company that traps wild animals.

In answer to a post by the News-Topic on Facebook, several people expressed some frustration with what can be done for animal problems. “Raccoons have totally destroyed our roof and attic above our carport,” Olivia Curtis wrote. “And animal controll won’t help.”

Raccoons and opossums get into trash, burrow in attics and basements and dig underneath a house, while deer mainly tromp around eating landscape plants and gardens.

The nuisance animal most likely to be considered a threat to people is the coyote, which has been known to kill family pets and farmers’ livestock. But coyotes also are hard to trap, Greene said, because that are extremely cautious and bolt at the first sign of something unexpected.

Dixon Herman of Blue Ridge Wildlife Control, a Hickory-based company that specializes in the removal or relocation of nuisance wildlife, said that to catch coyotes, he would normally use a cable restraint trap, which is engineered specifically to catch canines, such as coyotes or dogs.

Herman said he recommends property owners contact a professional when dealing with a problem animal instead of shooting it, because of the legal liability in case of an accident, but that people who are experienced with firearms should have the option to handle the problem themselves.