FAIRMONT, W.Va. — More than a dozen illegal deer killings have occurred in Fairmont over the last three months, and authorizers are unsure who is doing it and why.
The killings started in August. Since then, dead deer have been found all over Fairmont — from the Fairmont Regional Medical Center to Woodlawn Cemetery to Hampton Road.
“We have a serial deer killer,” state Division of Natural Resources Police Officer Randall Kocsis said.
The DNR is investigating the crimes, along with the Fairmont Police Department.
The culprit could face a series of charges, according to Fairmont Police Officer J. Martin said.
“As far as our office, it can range from anything from discharging a firearm in the city, discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a dwelling or business or hunting out of season,” Martin said. “There’s a variety of different charges, and the Division of Natural Resources has a different variety that they could add on, as well.”
The DNR can charge offenders with hunting outside of regular hours and “spotlighting,” or using an artificial light to stun deer at nighttime, making them easier to kill.
While out-of-season deer killings are fairly common, DNR Police Lt. Brad McDougal said the Fairmont killings are unusual.
“Throughout the county, for us to have deer killed at night this time of year is not uncommon. But for deer to be shot right in town like this with a firearm — that’s not common,” McDougal said.
In Fairmont, the deer have been shot with similar guns.
At least deer one had to be euthanized by the DNR after the culprit’s gunshots failed to kill the animal.
Martin said police and the DNR are not sure whether the killings are being committed by the same person or are connected at all, and they’re looking at all possibilities.
“Human nature is to assume that it’s all the same, but our job as investigators is to determine if that’s the case or not,” Martin said. “Given the pattern, it would seem so, but I can’t say for certain.”
While it is hard to determine exactly why the deer are being killed, Martin offered several possible explanations.
“With some people, it might just be an opportunity thing,” Martin said. “Some people might think that it’s harmless, so in a sense they almost get a sense of joy or fun out of it. With other people, it might be that they’re angry that their plants were eaten over the fall, or they just don’t like having (deer) in their yard.”
With the state deer firearm season starting Monday, it remains to be seen if the killings in Fairmont will stop. However, Martin said that the deer killer is probably not a hunter.
“Some people have waited all year for (hunting season),” Martin said. “With some people, it’s not so much about the hunting for them. The people who are killing them out of season and overnight — just because — are not hunters. They’re not doing it for the sport. They’re doing it for some other reason.”
Those with information about the deer killings are encouraged to call the DNR at 304-825-6787 or the Fairmont Police Department at 304-366-4200.