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City Council Discusses Dangers of Deer Overpopulation

No decision is made on how to address deer population at work session

The average urban area can support 10 to 15 deer per square mile, Mentor City Manager Kenneth Filipiak said during a work session with City Council Tuesday.

By comparison, Mentor's fourth ward -- the ward that includes , and -- averages 33 deer per square mile, according to the results of a flyover count the city paid for in March.

That count doesn't include , which has averaged about 120 deer per square mile during the last 10 years, Filipiak said.

City Council and administration did not discuss how they planned to address Mentor's deer population. Instead, they discussed how the deer have impacted the city and agreed to discuss the issue again at a future work session.

listed some of those signs of impact. He said the deer had gnawed through much of the city's undergrowth.

In a healthy forest, a person should only be able to see 10 to 15 yards into the forest because of the foliage. However, in Mentor, someone can see beyond 100 yards, Keller said.

Keller added that this was an even bigger problem in a fragile ecosystem like the .

"What the deer are doing is eating anything and everything that grows from the ground to where their heads can reach," Keller said.

Keller also noted that the deer in Mentor tend to be small for their age, perhaps because of malnourishment, he posited.

After the meeting, Filipiak said that Mentor had 245 animal-related crashes between 2007 and 2009 -- the most in the region. The next closest, Strongsville, only had 180.

These crashes caused an average of $3,200 worth of damage to the vehicle involved.

"It's not just the potential for physical danger," Filipiak said. "There's a monetary cost, as well."

Council questions on deer

Council members had the opportunity to ask Keller questions during the work session.

Ward 4 Councilman John Krueger asked what would happen if nothing were done to stem the growing deer population.

"If we do nothing, they'll eat you out of house and home," Keller said.

Ward 2 Councilwoman Carolyn Bucey asked Keller if population control programs had to be done for several years to be effective.

"It is a continual, long-term thing," Keller replied.

Bucey also asked if the deer population would just replenish itself if culled. Keller said that could be prevented by focusing on doe culling.

Councilman-At-Large Ray Kirchner said he did not think deer sterilization was a viable option and Keller agreed.

"In Ohio, according to the revised code, it's illegal to do any birth control, any contraception along those lines," Keller said.

Mentor Parks Director Bob Martin said the city is looking for ways to get a reliable deer count for other parts of the city besides Ward 4. He noted that flyovers are an expensive way to do it.

He said the residents could fill out a form they would post on the city web site to tell the administration when and where they see deer.

In the mean time, Keller recommended that residents not feed deer or let them get comfortable near human habitations.

Looking ahead

Council did not make any decisions regarding deer Tuesday night.

Instead, they plan to continue discussions on the issue at future work sessions.

"I think Council's pretty well convinced that we have some problem areas in the city," Filipiak said, before adding, "It might not be everywhere in the city."

Filipiak added that nobody was interested in eradicating the deer.

"I think that most of the people in this community like seeing deer when they're not creating the types of problems we're seeing here."

After the meeting, John Krueger said he supports deer culling and hopes the Council makes a decision on it "as soon as possible."

"It was a major issue when I was walking the ward," he said. "Only two people who I talked to were against culling the herd. Everyone else was for it.

"There's such a thing as a healthy herd and, right now, we have an unhealthy amount of deer."

Tim Walters January 18, 2012 at 01:14 PM
We need to do something about the deer. I have to walk out my back door in the Headlands to make sure there are no deer. They HAVE gone after me, my child, and my dogs. As well a year ago on Hopkins Rd by Pinewood Ct. A deer ran in front of my car. I swerved to miss the deer and hit a telephone poll head on. Because I swerved and did not maintain my lane it was not covered under car insurance so my hospital bills and life flight bill was not covered. Now you can say it is my fault for swerving but it is a reaction. If not for the deer I would not have $40,000 dollars in det.
David Lyles January 19, 2012 at 12:02 PM
I have been watching the steady increase of the deer population along rt 306 now for about 11 years. Everyday, deer continually cross rt 306 which in time will cause an accident. I am a hunter and would like to harvest the deer in my own yard and donate the venison to the Lake County homeless shelter or another charity wanting to feed the needy. It is nice to have wildlife, but with small children playing in the yard and deer and coyote running about, I would like Mentor to have a better handle on the deer heard. I would not let any hunters on my lands and Mentor doesn't need to hire sharp shooters if they just ask their own residents.
Tim Walters January 19, 2012 at 01:20 PM
@ David, I agree with you plus we do have some military fairly close to us that could be in this as well. You and I both know this will be hard for them to do because of liability but, maybe it would be more likely if the hunters/military go to the police station and have to pass a strict safety test and shooting test to be allowed to do this. I would allow you to come in my yard in the headlands as well.
David Lyles January 19, 2012 at 01:56 PM
@ Tim, I agree, I am retired military and have hunted for many of years. I have participated on several controlled hunts in Ohio and don't mind a shooting/safety proficiency test given by the Mentor PD. If a hunter is in an area, I wouldn't mind telling neighbors and giving MPD a call on their non-emergency line to let them know that a bow hunter is in the area. This way you can actually control the deer heard and people would be benefiting from the venison as well.
David Lyles January 19, 2012 at 02:04 PM
Also, ODNR would be able to track the size and age of the deer harvested, which can be used to estimate the actual number of deer per sq mile.

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