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Deer Population Threatening Avon Lake's Metro Park

Kopf Family Reservation supports 7-8 deer but up to 40 have been seen in the city's only Metro Park.

Walking through , one of Lorain County’s newest Metro Parks, one can’t help but notice the serenity of the dense woods – and the number of deer.

Regardless of what time of year it is, strollers or bike riders taking advantage of the more than two miles of trails in the  L-shaped park off Electric Boulevard, dedicated as a Lorain County Metro Park in 2008, are almost certain to have a close encounter with one of the dozens of deer that call the reservation home.

And while deer may seem symbolic of the woods’ tranquility, the sheer number that live and pass through each day are affecting the park’s vegetation and ecosystem.

In northeast Ohio, the ideal capacity for deer is about 30 per square mile (640 acres).

“The holding capacity for this woods, 162 acres….would be about eight deer,” Kopf Family Reservation Park Manager Grant Thomspon said. “You take a walk through and we’re seeing 20 deer at a time. There have been times we’ve seen as many as 40."

That sustainability number is based on a regular supply of growth, but the supply is being threatened with a high number of deer nipping down shrubs and bushes.

Two years ago Thompson erected two plant enclosures, fenced off areas that deer can not enter. The idea was to compare the growth on the inside of the enclosure, untouched by the deer, with the surrounding area. Photos taken in July show a clear difference with the inside of the enclosure boasting a healthy amount of green vegetation compared to the stripped down forest and understory outside the enclosure.

Thompson is concerned about the rapidly evaporating foliage and the potential for a continued increase in the deer population.

“A herd can increase 82 percent in one year,” he said.

While first time deer mothers generally produce one offspring, subsequent pregnancies generate two or three fawns. The end result is a metro park being stripped down.

“The woods itself is being impacted tremendously,” Thompson said. “They’re eating everything on the ground. From about 4 and a half feet down they’re eating all of the green growth."

The issue has become a as well, with the city reviewing options. 

Just what can be done about the population is not yet certain.

Councilwoman Jennifer Fenderbosch said the Environmental Affairs Advisory Board (EAAB) has been conducting a “spotlight” deer survey has been ongoing in the entire city of Avon Lake, where pairs have gone out during different times of the day to get an idea of how many deer live here. The survey will continue through 2011.

Fenderbosch said she has heard reports of deer challenging people and is concerned over automobile accidents involving deer as well as destruction of vegetation.

“What we see is less than 30 percent of the actual population,” she said. “In 12 square miles there should be no more than 30-40 deer.”

The estimate for Avon Lake is much higher.

Fenderbosch said the EAAB has formed a subcommittee, the Deer Investigative Research Group to put a strategy together with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) who technically has jurisdiction over the deer.

“The ODNR own all the deer,” Fenderbosch said at a recent Environmental Affairs Committee meeting. “They need to determine if there’s a healthy or unhealthy herd.

If unhealthy they may have to do something. “

Currently city law prohibits general hunting.

“There’s no hunting at all,” Chief David Owad said. “No hunting with guns, bow and arrows or sling shot.”

There is a “culling program” in place however. That program allows individuals to apply for a culling permit from ODNR, however strict regulations are in place. Culling, by bow and arrow, is only permitted on property 5 or more acres in size and there needs to be proof of agricultural damage.

Fenderbosch said only two culling permits have been issued in the past 10 years. Currently, Avon Lake has 11 parcels of property, many of them city-owned parks, that are more than 5 acres in size.

A change in the laws isn’t out of the realm of possibility.

 “ODNR could tell Avon Lake, ‘you need to change your laws,’” Fenderbosch said. “They may ask the city to do something. What that something else is has yet to be seen. ”  

Lucy McKernan March 07, 2011 at 03:29 PM
“ODNR could tell Avon Lake, ‘you need to change your laws,’” Fenderbosch said. “They may ask the city to do something. What that something else is has yet to be seen. ” oh, boy, here we go again. same old, same old. don't we live in a global world with internet access? don't people already know about the lies the DNR/DOW concocts to fool the public about deer populations so it can continue to rake in the majority of its annual revenue off the bloody rebounding of deer? c'mon, people. this is really getting old already. tell scott peters from DNR/DOW, tell USDA, tell the park lady "expert" blah, blah, blah to stop lying to everybody; leave the deer alone and they'll level off. Avon Lake is second to none re: development over the past five to 10 years; it's BECAUSE THEY HAVE BEEN SQUEEZED into this area; DUH! This is so disheartening. For crying out loud, don't listen to city officials, park personnel, DNR/DOW or anyone else that has a biased opinion. Listen to people who know the real politics and science behind urban deer hunting. If you seek the truth with a capital "T" you will find it. However, if you look for what you set out to look for, i.e. confirmation of your current beliefs, that is exactly what you will find. That is the difference between the two factions: one already has submitted its belief to science and facts and meta-analyses, the other simply seeks tidbits and strings them together in order to continue hunting, keep a job, etc. Wake up man!
Judy Kean March 07, 2011 at 03:31 PM
I had two deer eating bread at my back door that I threw out for the birds this past weekend
Lucy McKernan March 07, 2011 at 03:48 PM
Judy: I am a birder, and true birders do not feed bread to birds; they feed natural and/or organic bird seed. Bread is not good for birds. BTW, without realizing it, you may be adding to the mentality that deer are a "nuisance" to be "managed." Deer have just as much right to be in your yard as you, the birds, or anyone else has. Deer population has rebounded everyone -- paradoxically and most ironically -- because the Ohio Div. of WildDeath is allowed to continue unabated in killing deer for profit; they don't deny and have even admitted publicly that their agenda is to keep a high number of live targets through compensatory rebound effect. A fancy way of saying if you use lethal methods, you will actually get more deer. This is not up for argument, and is in fact what happened in Solon recently. Avon Lake residents: if you are genuinely interested in forcing your community to use only, SOLELY, nonlethal methods and deterrants proven to work in numerous other parts of the country -- and yes, they are cost effective and safer -- then you should contact the League of Humane Voters of Ohio and they will provide info and back you while you do the heavy lifting of fighting the injustice. This is what we've done in Solon, Broadview Hts., etc. You, the people, have to, as the article mentioned, "do something." Make that something nonlethal!
Lori E. Switaj March 07, 2011 at 04:14 PM
Interesting comments Lucy. I'd like to hear more (in comments or by email) from others. The emails I have received this morning indicate that there is a legitimate concern by residents about the deer in Avon Lake. For or against population control, I'd recommend contacting the mayor or a city council representative to give them feedback, or just post it here.
Lucy McKernan March 07, 2011 at 06:09 PM
Thank you, Lori. Yes, I couldn't agree more. And this legitimate concern re: deer overpopulation actually underscores and makes urgent all the points outlined in my previous messages: that if people are really concerned about safety, DVA's, browsing, and being just plain humane, then all the more urgency for finding nonlethal methods that have already proven not to cause rebound, or continuing overpopulation. In other words, those concerns are legitimate indeed, and that is why ONLY nonlethal methods should be used, to stop the cycle of mad killing and rebound lining DNR/DOW's pockets and catering to special interest/hunters that are less than seven percent of the population. Lethal -- no matter what method used = rebound. People must accept this, and stop denying truth and facts. And people should certainly should know by now -- isn't it screamingly obvious the past year or so with all that's going on -- that government agencies don't have their, and certainly not the animals'/wildlife, best interest or well-being anywhere in the their agenda.
Jayne Hertvik March 07, 2011 at 11:54 PM
We live near the Kopf Family Reservation, and deer continue to be a problem. We have an obvious path from our backyard "greenbelt" area, through our front yard and on towards Armour. The deer eat every thing that we don't regularly spray to keep them away.
Jim H March 08, 2011 at 12:40 AM
When will the Mayor and the other city officials finally address this problem (a problem we caused)?
Michelle Braun March 08, 2011 at 01:03 PM
Let's think about cause and effect here: I am bothered by the fact that the 'deer' seem to fall victim to urban sprawl and then are blamed for eating the green vegetation. I have been a resident of Avon Lake for five years, and during that time I have watched acres of land in the Avon/Avon Lake area that have literally been cleared. In states like New Hampshire and Vermont there are state laws in place that require replanting of multiple trees for every tree cut down. Controlling the poplulation of the deer because the herd count is high, is our fault. Their land to roam and eat has drastically decreased during the past decade. Perhaps if we cared about our environment and its creatures more, we would not find ourselves in this conundrum.
Jim Harley March 08, 2011 at 01:16 PM
Deer are beautiful and they are a great addition to our city, if they are controlled. We created this problem and now must deal with it. The alternatives to a controlled hunt are a lot worse for the deer and humans. I don't want to see starving sickly deer or having Bambi getting hit by a car and killing someone. We don't have a natural predator for deer, we unfortunately have to fill this role.
Kathy March 08, 2011 at 02:23 PM
I agree that we have created this 'problem' but my main concern with this right now is safety. As someone who hit a deer last year on Walker Road, causing several thousand dollars of damage to my car, I continue to worry about car/deer accidents. I see deer often on Jaycox, Lear, and Walker Roads; as these roads continue to get busier, I fear for more serious accidents. Does anyone know if these accidents are tracked in the city? I would be interested to find out if they have been increasing.
Lori E. Switaj March 08, 2011 at 02:52 PM
The feedback I am getting right now is safety is the no. 1 issue regarding deer. No. 2 is plant/garden destruction. Some of these comments are coming from animal lovers...I don' think anyone is really excited about culling. Perhaps a no-kill program is worth looking into. I will check on car vs. deer stats. Check back later for an update.
Tlamorgese March 08, 2011 at 03:12 PM
I don't live in the Avon area and I have the same problem with deer. Just last night I heard tapping noises, they stopped and then a few seconds later, more tapping noises. I asked my wife what was going on...three deer were literally on my patio and just staring at the window that my wife was tapping on. When I went into the bedroom to take a look one deer was only about a foot from the window looking at us. Did not back down with the pounding I gave on the window. I opened the top part of the window and started barking like a dog and then they ran off. I'm sorry, but that is just a little too close for me. They seem to look and mock people anymore...they need to be dealt with everywhere, by WHATEVER means possible!!!!
Tlamorgese March 08, 2011 at 03:14 PM
Part two of my comment above..And as far as the comment from Lucy that I cut and pasted here.." Deer have just as much right to be in your yard as you, the birds, or anyone else has. As "anyone else has"?...Really...not "everyone" has the right to be in my yard. Last fall some kids thought it would be funny to light the wreath on our front door on fire. They probably just wanted to burn the wreath, but they burned down my entire front door and porch as well as some substantial damage to the foyer. If I didn't here the glass pop on the door I probably wouldn't be here typing this response. My wife and I could have died if the fire progressed any more. We have WORKING smoke detectors in our home but they did not go off until the fire got way out of hand and my wife and I left the house. So as we were waiting for the fire department to come, we were both in tears as we thought we were going to loose everything. So I'm sorry Lucy, not "everyone' has the right to be in my yard.
Judy Kean March 08, 2011 at 04:15 PM
Lucy I do keep bird feeders full in the winter for the birds and I am not complaining about the deer at all. The bread was actually just incidental. I just thought it was funny when I looked out my door and saw a deer standing with bread in his mouth. I see that the deer are getting closer to us and are not afraid. The deer are gifts from God and I just want them to be safe and for us not to have car accidents in the area because of there herd growth.
Lucy McKernan March 08, 2011 at 04:19 PM
That is just plain wrong and terrible, what happened when those juvvies set your wreath on fire. I'm sorry you had such a bad experience. I also understand you disagree with my comments abou animal rights. I have my reasons for making this statement and, although you disagree, you surely can see what the other commenter wrote about us humans creating this conundrum. Which is exactly why we need to find a humane solution. Even if you don't agree with me that deer/animals have rights or that we should find humane solutions, I would think that after reading my comments about the FACT that any lethal method creates more deer -- and that the DNR/DOW actually profits from the rebound effect -- would set your blood boiling. What I suggest, and this is from first-hand experience, is that you try and look at this from the deers' perspective. SOMEONE in your neighborhood is feeding, maybe even hand feeding, the deer, and that is why they unabashedly approached you. Many wild animals can -- but should NOT -- be tamed, esp. with food. This is why they aren't afraid and come right up to your window. Also, I suggest putting up something on the OUTSIDE of your window surface, such as CollidEscape, which also eliminates bird collisions; rarely, bucks may see their own reflection during rutting season and charge the glass. CollidEscape on my window resulted in zero bird collisions. Deer won't hurt you unless a doe has nearby and will stamp, stare and maybe charge a dog. What mother wouldn't?
Judy Kean March 08, 2011 at 04:20 PM
Lori I think that is an important thing to check about accident total due to deer it the area. I can deal with the animals eating my summer flowers more then accidents . I was alarmed when I saw the recent amount of woods that was cleared behind Wal Mart . The first thing I thought of is the fact that we are causing the deer to change there patterns.
Lori E. Switaj March 08, 2011 at 05:09 PM
Comment on our Facebook page: “Shoot the deer, and give the meat to needy families...Protecting deer is like protecting those Canadian geese. They are becoming nuisances. They aren't Bambi! They are wild game!"
Lucy McKernan March 08, 2011 at 07:18 PM
Lori: Who wrote that facebook comment? I'm no longer a FB user (big waste of time), so I'd like to know who wrote it. Thx.
Michele Hampe March 08, 2011 at 11:29 PM
Thank You!! Someone with some sense! It is human fault NOT the deer who have created this problem. We have moved into THEIR territory, building house after house. Look at Town Center. Look at all the land that was wasted as now TOPS has been empty for a few years. Get real! Deer are a gift from God. If you don't want them eating your gardens and bushes then you should have moved into a house with a concrete lot all around it. Might not hurt to SLOW down around town also for those of you who don't want them hitting your cars. Accidents do happen, but is it always the fault of the wildlife around town?
David March 09, 2011 at 01:19 AM
The deer are not a "problem." They are just trying to live. If you fear hitting one, slow down and pay attention. I can't comment on the flower thing, because, well, it's food. They gotta eat.... Look at the survey on the Avon Patch. You'll see what people really care about. Most people are just concerned about where they can buy some supposedly "special" food from some Whole Foods supermarket, getting cheap foreign made decorations from Old Tyme Pottery, or some blonde furniture from IKEA.
Tim Allen January 17, 2013 at 01:29 AM
There is a HUGE problem with too many deer in Avon Lake. We have a health hazard because of them. Should I drive down walker road at 10 miles/hr. looking for bolting deer?? sure. And I'll put concrete around my house to keep the deer away, yea that's the answer.

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