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.)
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: