City Council Approves Ordinances Outlawing The Feeding Of Deer, Interfering With Legal Hunters
Council was split on both votes
Mentor City Council voted for two ordinances during its meeting Tuesday night that pertain to the city's ongoing deer population management plan.
And, though both passed, neither did unanimously.
The first ordinance added deer to the list of "nuisance animals" in Mentor.
Consequently, it is now a fourth-degree misdemeanor to feed or harbor deer.
Mentor City Manager Kenneth Filipiak said the purpose of the ordinance is to discourage deer from coming into residential parts of the city.
"The city of Mentor has many issues related to human-deer interactions," he said.
The administration is concerned that this amount of deer threatens the community's biodiversity, causes a disproportionate amount of traffic crashes and is even unhealthy for the deer.
"Our concern is to take action now and to restore our environment and the biodiversity that has been decimated," Filipiak said.
Council President Scott Marn and Ward 1 Councilman Robert Shiner voted against the legislation. The remaining five Council members voted for it.
Shiner said he had more trouble with feral cats and geese than deer in his ward.
He added that he didn't vote for the ordinance because he did not think there was any way to enforce it.
Marn said he thought that property owners should have the right to feed the animals if they want to feed the animals.
Elaine Foster, a Mentor resident, attended the meeting and said she disagreed with the ordinance.
"This is a Band-Aid," she said of the legislation. "We need to address the broader problem of habitat destruction."
Foster then asked if Council would make it illegal to feed birds or squirrels.
Ward 3 Councilman Bruce Landeg said that it was not just a matter of the deer losing their habitat; it was an issue with the herd's size.
"Even if this population were in a rural area, it would be an unhealthy and unsafe population," he said.
Landeg added that the deer -- in part, because of their size -- were more dangerous when interacting with humans and their vehicles than birds or squirrels.
At-Large Councilman Ray Kirchner said the city was not trying to decrease the deer herd size because they disliked deer.
"We're certainly sympathetic to people who love the deer," Kirchner said. "But having a herd this big isn't doing the deer any favors either."
Kirchner also said that he and other members of Council often get calls from residents who are upset because their neighbors are feeding the deer.
Council also passed an ordinance Tuesday night that made it illegal to block, obstruct, impede or otherwise interfere with the legal hunting or culling of deer.
All the Council members voted for the law except for Marn.
These two new ordinances are just part of the city's deer population management plan.
The program has five parts: educate the public on the dangers of deer overpopulation; get an accurate count of of the deer population in Mentor and its distribution; start a traffic-safety program that focuses on avoiding crashes with deer; legalize regulated hunting; and use sharpshooters from Mentor Police Department to cull deer herds.
Mentor City Council voted to legalize bow hunting last year (by a 5-2 margin) and, this hunting season, hunters have killed more than 110 deer in the city.
Mentor also received permission from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to begin culling earlier this month. Mentor's culling efforts, which have already started, will focus on four specific properties within Mentor: Morton Park, Mentor Lagoons, Veterans Park and Black Brook Golf Course.
Originally, the city had intended to cull in the property around City Hall also but they ultimately decided against it.
In the past two weeks, the city has culled 74 deer from Morton Park and Mentor Lagoons.
Mentor residents Barbara and Dan Welker attended the Council meeting because they opposed the city's deer hunting and culling practices.
"This is not a culling program. It's an extermination program," Dan Welker said.
He suggested that outside experts, including a group of city residents, review Mentor's deer population management program.
Barbara Welker said one of her renters, a shut-in who had childhood polio, loved seeing the deer outside of his window before he passed away.
"There's more people in the city who enjoy the animals," she said.