Bald Head Culls Deer Population

Wilmington, NC – Contractors will continue to prowl the night woods of Bald Head Island through this weekend, searching for the final deer for this year's cull.

Bald Head Island started thinning its deer population five years ago, after studies found that the animals were overpopulated and damaging to the local environment.

Village Manager Calvin Peck said that although no one on the island is happy about the process, without natural predators, the cull is necessary to keep the island's ecosystem in balance.

"We have an obligation to manage and maintain, preserve and protect the maritime forest," Peck said.

This year's quota is a hundred deer, and according to Peck, the cull is going more slowly than usual because contractors are trying to take more males than females. The focus on distinguishing genders also prompted the town to start the process earlier this year, before the bucks lose their horns in the spring.

Peck is quick to emphasize that process is not a deer hunt: "It is not within the hunting season. It is done at night, with spotlights. It is done with .22 rifle, low-power ammunition from very short range."

The program is not without controversy, said Peck, and some residents leave Bald Head entirely for the duration.

Peck said meat from culled deer is being collected in a refrigerator truck and will be donated to local food pantries.