A Gainesville woman got an unwanted surprise last Friday after smelling something foul coming from her backyard.
The smell, as it turned out, came from a decaying deer carcass less than 100 yards from her house.
Caroline Alday, a homeowner on Valley Road whose backyard backs up to Riverside Military Academy, said her son discovered the deer Friday evening.
She said the deer had been shot, but wasn’t sure if it was a bow or a gun. When the police arrived, she said they told her it was likely shot with a bow.
“It’s obviously poaching because it’s out of season,” said Alday. “It’s just for the pure meanness, as far as I’m concerned.”
No police report has been filed at the Gainesville Police Department and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources has not heard of the incident.
“There’s poachers everywhere,” said Ken Riddleberger, game management region supervisor for the Northeast Georgia District of the DNR. “But I don’t know about (this particular incident).”
Deer, however, are common in the area.
“In the last four years, the deer population in this area has just exploded and a lot of the people in the neighborhood are irate about it because they’re destroying their gardens,” Alday said.
Riddleberger said the deer population in the area is on the DNR’s radar, but the number of deer may not exceed the area’s ability to sustain them.
He said the department measures an urban deer population in two ways: biological carrying capacity, which is the number of animals an environment can sustain, and social carrying capacity, the number of animals a society can sustain.
“I think there’s no doubt (the deer have) exceed the social carrying capacity, but we don’t know of the biological carrying capacity,” said Riddleberger.
He said he’s not sure of the number of deer in the area because there has been no data collected.
But, he said, there is “a social overpopulation that the residents are concerned about.”
So much even that last year Riverside Military Academy started an organized bow hunt to try and thin the herd in the area.
“In most cases, the most economical and best solution is hunting,” Riddleberger said.
And hunting, Alday said, isn’t her concern; it’s illegal hunting that worries her.
“It’s a safety issue,” she said. “I don’t have ill will toward hunters that hunt during deer season that eat the meat or donate it to the hungry ... and I know they need to keep the herd down because it’s gotten too big in this neighborhood. But I do have ill will towards those who don’t obey the law and hunt out of season, especially in a neighborhood.”
She said this is not the first time a deer has been found dead in the neighborhood.
Last year a buck was found shot with its antlers cut off, she said. The year before, two slain deer were found just down the road from her house.
“I don’t know what needs to be done,” said Alday. “It seems about it happens about once a year.”
She hopes if anyone sees poaching that they will turn them into the local authorities.
“When my grandchildren come, they love to play (in the backyard),” said Alday. “(Poaching is) dangerous, inconsiderate and it’s against the law.”