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EMERALD ISLE, NC (AP) — Emerald Isle will begin annual controlled hunts to deal with the town’s growing deer population, rather than holding them just every other year.

The Daily News of Jacksonville reported the Emerald Isle Board of Commissioners has authorized annual controlled hunts, starting with one in January or February. Commissioners also approved the use of sharpshooters, although the 2014 hunt will be limited to bow hunters.

A state biologist estimates 159 deer lived in Emerald Isle in fall 2013, up from 141 the previous year. The state Wildlife Resources Commission estimates the town should have about 50 deer to maintain a healthy population.

Officials say public safety is an issue, with the number of collisions of deer and vehicles increasing from 19 in 2012 to 30 in 11 months of 2013.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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