Editor's note: The accompanying video was taken by Editor Lori E. Switaj while running through the Kopf Reservation. She slowed down to walk past the deer to avoid a confrontation. (Yes, she is hiding behind a tree at the end.)
Avon Lake’s council president as well as several of his peers and residents expressed frustration at the lack of action taken by city leaders in addressing the deer problem.
Councilman Martin O’Donnell commented after Mayor Greg Zilka said from January through the end of August this year, 65 deer carcasses have been collected many of them killed by car collisions. A helicopter survey in March determined there were between 195-225 deer in the city.
“This means that about 30 percent of the deer in the city have been killed by deer-car collisions,” Zilka said. He called the number “shocking” and noted with rutting season coming up that number will most likely increase.
“The community wants some type of action,” O’Donnell said. “It’s very frustrating to see these numbers…the safety issue is imperative in this process. When council initiated this action last year, quite frankly the chief had a whole 6-8 months to put something together.
“All we need is for one of these deer to go through somebody’s window.”
Councilman Dan Bucci agreed some action is required and said he believed the deer count was too low, saying he found it hard to believe the number of dead
He said some action besides “quiet frankly, using other peoples cars,” referring to the deer killed by car strikes. “That’s not the way to go here. I’ve run out of patience.”
Although the city approved an ordinance last year allowing police to use firearms and bow hunting, it is only on certain properties, and the property owner would need to agree. To date, no large property owners have agreed to allow culling on their property.
Birth control and signs were also reviewed as options.
The city previously looked at a contraception program offered by Tufts University, but that seemed more unlikely since that program does not allow culling.
“We’ve been knocked to the bottom of the list for the deer program due to culling,” Zilka said.
He said the earliest they could participate in the program is 2015 “if we eliminate culling as an option and get approval from the Ohio Department of Wildlife.
The Ohio Department of Wildlife has not offered approval for a program like that in more than 30 years.
Police Chief Dave Owad discussed the issue several weeks ago with Metropark Director Jim Ziemnik who stands by the “no culling” position he previously adopted. Owad also spoke to a property developer who owns several large tracts in the city who is also opposed to hunting on his property.
The NOACA grant for informal warning signs requires there to be a no-culling plan in place. The grant would allow for signs where deer-car accidents are most frequent.
to the conclusion that without access to large tracts for hunting on the east
of the city (East of SR 83) there is no location for hunting in that area,”
Zilka said. As a result, the city could apply for a NOACA grant.
Council president Martin O’Donnell was frustrated with the lack of action, arguing for at the least, some experimental program.
Councilwoman Jennifer Fenderbosch noted that putting up signs would not reduce the deer population.
Several residents also expressed frustratin.
“This is a joke,” one resident said. “You guys are dancing around on the head of a pin.”
Zilka responded the man lived in a very residential area not suitable for culling and they were trying to come to a resolution. A second resident said the deer were so domesticated they followed his wife and child daily on their way to school.
Zilka said he wanted to designate a no-culling area so signage could be put up to advise people to slow down, especially on Lake, Lear, Jaycox and Walker roads and SR 83.