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Mentor City Council, Administration Discuss Deer Culling

City Council and administration discuss what it would take to set up a deer culling program in Mentor

The first time the Mentor City Council and administration had a work session about deer they focused on . They did not talk about how said population could be managed.

However, they got specific during their second work session Tuesday at .

City Manager Kenneth Filipiak specifically laid out what it would take to establish a deer culling program in Mentor. He also talked about other ways the city could address the deer problem. They ranged from legalizing hunting to making it illegal to feed deer.

The session began with Filipiak giving members of City Council a 15-page report that suggested a 5-part deer management plan. (The complete report is attached to this story as a PDF.)

The plan

1. The plan starts with educating the public. Filipiak recommended more and better education on human-deer interaction, including preferred deer deterrents.

He also suggested that include Council pass an ordinance against feeding deer in Mentor.

2. While and , even more, they don't know how much deer live in most of the city and they will need to find out.

Any deer culling program in the city would require a permit from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Moreover, to get the permit, the city would need an estimate as to how many deer live in the city.

Several counting methods are available to the city, though some are more expensive:

  • An infrared flyover would cost the city about $30,000 (or $2.50 per acre.) It is the method Lake Metroparks uses to count deer and the city could work out a joint arrangement with the parks system, as it did when it had its fourth ward counted.
  • An aerial county would involve two people in a helicopter. Though unsure of an exact price, this would likely be a more expensive option, according to the report.
  • Spotlight surveys can be done from a car. They involve using a spotlight to observe an area and count deer. While inexpensive, especially if performed by city employees, it would be ineffective in densely vegetated areas.
  • Trail camera surveys use motion cameras and baited sites to draw deer. While this is a less expensive option, the cameras can be vandalized and large bucks can dominate a bait site, skewing the overall sample.
  • Filipiak also mentioned the possibility of using observation data from staff and volunteers, including city residents, as a way to establish a database. The information would be inexpensive but likely inconsistent depending on people's methods and observations.

"The city of Solon employs this method with a full-time Animal Control officer," the report says. "It is likely that Mentor would need to employ someone with training or expertise in managing a deer management program for several aspects of this program. Such a person could also be responsible for observation data directly and in concert with volunteers."

3. Filipiak said the city should also begin a traffic safety program focused on avoiding deer collision.

Mentor already has the unfortunate distinction of having the most animal-related crashes in the region between 2007 and 2009 -- 245. The next closest, Strongsville, only had 180.

The report suggests several ways to lower that number, starting with driver education.

It also recommends fencing roadside areas prone to regular deer traffic and occasionally adding underpasses or overpasses, when possible, for safe deer crossing.

Also, the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA) has reached an agreement with Mentor to install reflectors and motion-activated lights to scare deer away from portions of Hopkins and Lake Shore Road. This technology will hopefully deter deer from some places where crashes have become common.

4. The to their work session. All agreed that deer culling was the most effective -- if not the only effective -- way to decrease herd size.

While the city could legalize bow hunting for trained individuals immediately, hunting alone could not thin the herds, Filipiak said.

"Relying on regulated hunting is generally not effective at significantly reducing herd size in urban areas," the report notes.

For that, the city would need sharpshooters like the ones used in Solon or Cleveland Metroparks.

However, it is sometimes a long process to get approval for a deer culling program, Filipiak said. Before any culling could begin, City Council would need to pass legislation approving a plan that includes asking for a Deer Damage Control Permit from ODNR Division of Wildlife.

Council would also have to legalize hunting within city limits for specific people.

Getting the permit can be a lengthy proces. Before the ODNR approves a permit, they need:

  • deer population estimates and the methods used to get that datat
  • long-term management goals
  • proposed culling methods and procedures, as well as how those methods and procedures will be evaluated
  • a time table for implementation

Filipiak said he hoped the city could receive a permit before this fall when deer hunting season begins. However, he noted that the process can take longer than that.

Solon and Cleveland Metroparks hire outside agencies as sharpshooters. Solon spent an average of $150,000 for five years, costing about $500 per deer removed, Filipiak said.

The city manager recommended the city save money by using in-house talent instead.

"We feel pretty comfortable that the city of Mentor could conduct itw own program with sharpshooters from the Mentor Police Department," Filipiak said.

Police Chief Daniel Llewellyn has estimated the city would need $30,000 for a police-staffed sharpshooter program.

The Mentor Police also would receive help from Cleveland and Lake Metroparks, Filipiak added.

The city and police would take several steps to insure safety while hunting, Filipiak said. This includes:

  • restricting access to hunting areas while hunting is occurring
  • shooting only from elevated positions
  • training officers to select targets on deer for a quick and humane death
  • using fragmenting ammunition to avoid ricochet
  • using infrared equipment to track wounded deer.

If this plan were approved, the city would also have to pay to remove the downed deer. It could cost Mentor $75 per deer to have it taken away. Other vendors charge by the pound, Filipiak said.

The meat from the dead deer are donated to food banks and other people in need.

The next step

Before any of this could happen -- legalized hunting, seeking a permit from ODNR, making feeding deer illegal -- City Council would need to pass ordinances in their support.

While many City Council members have been outspoken in their support of deer culling, no votes were made Tuesday.

Additionally, another work session regarding deer is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Feb. 7 at City Hall.

Council Member Carolyn Bucey asked how long the city would be committed to a culling program if it began one and how long it would take the deer population to rebound if they stopped culling.

Filipiak replied that the deer population rebounded in two years in Solon.

"Once you stop, you go back to the population baseline," Filipiak said. "The only population control is mortality."

"So once you start, you can't stop?" Council President Scott Marn asked.

Filipiak agreed, "Once you start, you can't stop."

Also at the work session:

David Lyles February 01, 2012 at 12:08 PM
Why would the City of Mentor use their police officers to harvest the deer? Then you have to pay them overtime! Why not use us, your own residents who hunt, eat and use what they hunt, and know a little more about deer behavior than a person who works for the PD, but doesn't know anything about hunting. Be smart, show Solon and other areas how the City of Mentor can utilize their residents for free. I commend Mentor PD for the unbelievable job they do for us, but crime is their main focus, not deer management. Fencing is a nice thought, however, just like route's 2 an 90, you still see animal to vehicular accidents. Animals adapt and learn to travel to different spots, so I would think that fencing would be like playing a game of "whack-a-mole", pardon the pun.
Shawn VanHuss February 01, 2012 at 03:00 PM
Interesting the concern over the length of time it takes to set up a plan. The steps they go through that generate a "lengthy" approval are standard steps to setting up a proper deer management program. This comes from not having a wildlife commission in Mentor. We have other commissions that advise and gather data for the council, even a tree commission, why wouldn't we have a wildlife commission that spends time researching this problem and could have set up a plan before this situation got out of control. Setting up a deer management program is not done overnight, and will take time. I fear the council has pressure to do something quick and cheap and will not make the right choices. Take time to set up a proper deer culling program and use residents who are willing to help and use the meat themselves. Solon keeps getting mentioned for their use of sharpshooter program, they are currently reviewing allowing hunting of some form because of the high costs of this program as well as resident complaints of the deer culling employees. Why would we want to get caught up in this when if we do it right from the beginning, we can have a long term deer management plan that allows residents to control our own deer problem in Mentor?
Harry Manesis February 22, 2012 at 06:10 PM
I recently had the pleasure of visiting your beautiful town of Mentor. I am from CT and we also have a deer over population issue in many towns. I am a hunter and may come across as bias but the most effective programs in CT have been those that allow local resident hunters to lawfully hunt the deer. It is this most effective long term solution and cost effective. Fences do not work as it will actually result in even higher populations as you will be taking away the only current culling which is car collisions; very sad to say. Let nature takes it's course by allowing legal controlled hunting.
bo April 17, 2013 at 01:29 AM
They are doing the right thing. I study Wildlife Management and what they did was perfect. why pay 500 dollars a deer to add up to 300,000 dollars? By using what resources they have, a skilled group of officers can take out all the deer they need in one week instead of letting a group of random untrained people to go out and kill any deer they come across illegally. When a permit is issued to a group to cull deer they have a right to take only what is needed to bring the deer population down to what is better sutable. Deer will begain to graze taking out everthing in there path. They eat young trees that are needed to grow into the next stage of forest. They provide a health hazzard to humans by carrying lime disease. They also pose a threat to themselves. When an enormouse amount of deer gather, they pose the threat of Cronic Wasting Disease. Not to mention a buck in rut not being affraid of a human can attack your little boy or girl playing in the back yard. But, this rarely occurs. The town exploited other possibilities but, they used what was the most effective and the one that fit the counties budget.

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