You’ve seen the signs popping up around town. The message is hard to miss: “NO HUNTING,” the black letters say against a backdrop of hunter orange.
Avon Lake resident Tim Slater has city leaders and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources in his crosshairs and is sending out a message that hunting in Avon Lake is not wanted or needed.
He, along with a half a dozen other Avon Lake residents have formed a group that is posting the orange and black signs throughout the city and spreading their message through a new website, www.avonlakedeer.com.
When asked why the group formed, Slater said, “We started it to stop--stop this hunting proposal.”
Slater does not believe the city has a deer overpopulation problem and questions the method used by the city with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources' (ODNR) backing to count them. Slater believes that method, the “deer spotlight” program, does not provide an accurate count.
“You would get laughed at in most places for using that,” Slater said. “The data is from ODNR and their motive always is selling more hunting licenses and deer hunting equipment.
“They are always going to inflate the number.”
Slater said the question of overpopulation is just one issue.
“So you introduce a hunting program of big game animals in the name of safety with high-powered weapons?” he asked. “Hunting is extremely, extremely dangerous. The people who understand that don’t want any part of hunting in our community.”
Slater believes that putting lighted flashing warning lights in areas where there are a high number of deer, such as on Walker Road, where there were 12 deer vs. vehicle accidents last year, makes more sense than hunting.
“There are six places in town there should be signs,” Slater said. “This is a common-sense approach.”
His website supports that.
“We are surprised that warnings and traffic controls are almost non-existent along these roads,” avonlakedeer.com states. “Other communities have had success with highly visible, lighted deer crossing signs to warn motorists in similar situations.”
Slater added that a deer injured—not killed—by an arrow can be dangerous.
“When you hit a deer with an arrow, it runs, anywhere it can,” he said. “They can run for a mile, five miles…They can live for quite awhile, while suffering.”
The city of Solon just completed its deer culling program, removing 300 deer from the town since February after hiring ODNR sharpshooters.
As for the which will be discussed tonight at a joint Safety Committee/Environmental Committee meeting, Slater said the proposed law makes no sense, nor does hunting to prevent vegetation from being ruined.
“Who in their right mind is going to kill deer because they are eating the flowers?” Slater asked. “I don’t know why we should stop feeding the deer. There’s not a stitch of information to say that stop feeding the deer is going to help.”
He said planting deer-resistant plants and flowers or using deer repellant could solve the problem.
The feedback to his site, which has an online petition with more than 100 signatures, has been positive he said.
“It’s 10 to 1 against deer hunting,” Slater said. “Once people learned the facts they are shocked,” Slater said. “Who is going to move into city where they have deer hunting? No one wants a house where there’s deer hunting four months a year. Housing values will plummet.”
“I’ve been getting comments from both sides,” Zilka said, adding he would wait until after council began formal debates to further comment. He said he's seen the signs around town.
"The ordinance does not allow hunting in neighborhoods," he said.