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Edisto leaders launch deer population study

Officials with the Town of Edisto Beach are responding to some residents’ concerns about the number of deer within the town’s limits, and are therefore conducting a study of the town’s deer population.
According to Iris Hill, administrator for the Town of Edisto Beach, concerns about the town’s deer population has been brought to the town council’s collective attention in years past, first in 2014 and again in 2015. In those instances, S.C. Department of Natural Resources evaluated the deer population, she said and determined that the town’s vegetation was “sufficient” to sustain the deer.
Hill says the town’s leaders continue to get complaints from Edisto Beach residents, who say deer are aggressive during the rut season and that deer are eating vegetation. There are concerns of some residents feeding deer, she said. Because of these concerns from residents, Edisto Beach Town Council recently approved funding to hire a company to perform an independent deer population study.
The issue of the town paying for a deer study and responding to residents’ concerns about deer was an item that the town’s council discussed during this month’s council meeting.
Hill said S.C. Department of Natural Resources conducted its own deer population study within the town’s limits several years ago. Charles Ruth, S.C. DNR Deer Project coordinator said on Monday that he does not recall the state agency conducting an intense deer density study at Edisto Beach. However, Ruth says the agency does generally do “spotlight surveys” in some areas. Some S.C. DNR wildlife biologists have also spoken to Edisto Beach residents in the past about concerns about the deer population in the coastal community.
In the coming months, a private company called Folks Land Management is scheduled to conduct a study for Edisto Island. The goal in that upcoming study is to count the number of deer that exist on the island and then use that data to create a plan for population management.
George Brothers, chief of the Edisto Beach Police Department, is also involved in the town’s decision to conduct a new deer population study. Brothers said the new study will likely be done in November. The new study, which is being conducted by a private firm, will give town officials a “deer per acre” count, he said.
Recommendations on what to do next will also be a part of that study, he said.
The results should be presented to Edisto Beach Town Council during their December meeting.
“If the town, was to undertake a depredation or control program (i.e culling or some other non-lethal approach), that would require a permit issued by the SCDNR,” said David Lucas, director of Media and Outreach for S.C. DNR’s Charleston-area office.
The Town of Edisto Beach is rural and falls into the geographic footprint of Edisto Island. It is also in the general vicinity of the nearby ACE Basin, which is a preserve where the Ashepoo River, the Combahee River, and the Edisto River empty. Lucas says all of these factors do contribute to a deer population, along with any “human” population growth or development happening in nearby areas.

Heather Walters (1583 Posts)