Morgantown urban deer hunt underway

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The Morgantown Urban Deer Hunt is underway and will continue through December 31, the program takes a brief holiday break and resumes January 9 through January 31. Assistant Coordinator of the program, Rick Bebout said this year they’ve been able to include new hunters from the wait list and add new territories within the city.

“In 2022 we have 87 hunters participating, men and women, 10 of the hunter s are new hunters taken from the wait list,”Bebout said.

The program started unofficially in 2010 when city leaders realized the deer population was growing and becoming a nuisance. Following widespread incidents throughout the city, a study in 2011 determined there were 600 deer in city limits, or about 60 deer per square mile.

Following the 2011 study the program was instituted and has been in operation since.

“Those hunters are hunting 40 properties,” Bebout said. ” A mix of public and private properties across the city.”

The Suncrest area has been a difficult area to introduce the program, but Bebout worked out a public private partnership to bring the program to a suitable area.

“We’re working with a new private land owner there and a piece of MUB (Morgantown Utility Board) property and I think we’ll have an immediate impact in some of that part of Suncrest,” Bebout said.

Since the program began this year on September 3, Bebout says they have harvested 25 deer in city limits and 14 of those have been distributed to food banks in the area.

“I anticipate that we’ll probably make our first donation in other two weeks and we’ll distribute that across the community,” Bebout said.

On WAJR’s Talk of the Town volunteer bow hunter Rick Bebout said this season they have harvested more then 50 deer and the season will extend into January.

Last year, the program surpassed the 10,000 pound mark over the life of the program of donated meat with 10,078 pounds of ground venison.

The WVU Extension has done thermal on-the-ground counts that suggest the program is keeping the deer population stable.