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Coyote hunting hearing tonight in Halifax County

The public will have its opportunity tonight to tell the Halifax County Board of Supervisors how it feels about changing an existing ordinance to permit hunting from ground level with rifles larger than .22 caliber rimfire in an effort to manage the county’s coyote and deer populations.

A public hearing has been set for 6:30 p.m. in the public meeting room of the Mary Bethune Office Complex in Halifax.

Based on recommendations from the coyote ad hoc committee, supervisors are considering amending a county ordinance to allow rifles to be discharged from the ground.

At present the county code prohibits discharge of rifles except from elevated tree stands.

However, a public hearing is required before the ordinance can be adopted.

According to County Administrator George Nester, the proposed ordinance parallels state code as it relates to nuisance animals.

Supervisors said they have found the coyote and deer populations are expanding and in need of improved management.

According to the ordinance, the expanding coyote population is not properly managed in agricultural or residential areas posing a risk of damage to livestock, pets, persons, property, crops and plants.

Supervisors said the county’s prior efforts to control deer and coyote through such programs as the coyote bounty program and permitting hunting from elevated stands has not sufficiently addressed the expanding coyote and deer populations in the county.

According to the proposed ordinance, the board finds permitting hunting from ground level with rifles larger than .22 caliber rimfire will enhance hunting opportunities and in effect help better manage the coyote and deer population.

However, supervisors pointed out the ordinance regulates hunting from ground level within 100 yards of property lines and residences to protect the public.

As part of the ordinance, the board also is considering eliminating the mandatory and limited nature of its current coyote bounty program with plans to establish a more flexible program to address the problems created by the expanding coyote population.

According to ED-1 Supervisor J. T. Davis, Jason Fisher of the Virginia Extension Service is working with Animal Control Office Chief Warden Todd Moser to coordinate a public informational meeting to share some of the information it has gained on managing coyote predation.

Ward Burton’s Wildlife Foundation also is working to bring specialists to the county to conduct a seminar on trapping coyotes, Davis added.

Supervisors encourage citizens to attend the public hearing tonight to voice their opinions on whether hunting with rifles should be permitted from ground level.

In other county business tonight, supervisors are expected to take the following actions:

 Hold a public hearing on a conditional use permit on application from Dennis K. Roller to locate an automotive repair shop adjacent to 8103 Mount Laurel Road on the west side, approximately one-tenth of a mile north of its intersection with Black Walnut Road (Route 600);

 Hear a monthly report from Kenneth Martin of the Virginia Department of Transportation, discuss rural rustic project priorities and set a public hearing for May on the Six-Year Plan;

 Receive updates from the county administrator on the USDA’s request to amend the lease agreement, building inspections agreement with the Town of South Boston, courthouse space needs assessment and South Boston Energy grant project policies;

 Hear an update from County Finance Director Stephanie Jackson and listen to committee reports; and

 Supervisors also are scheduled to make appointments to the Board of Zoning Appeals, Halifax County Improvement Council, Southside Regional Group Home, Transportation Safety Commission, Southside Virginia Community College, Halifax County Service Authority, Library Board, Social Services Board and Workforce Investment Board.

At the conclusion of tonight’s meeting, supervisors are expected to go behind closed doors in an executive session to discuss specific personnel matters; the acquisition or disposition of property; the protection of the privacy of individuals in personal matters not related to public business; a prospective business or industry or expansion of an existing business; consult with legal council and discuss award of a public contract involving public funds.