Almost two years after initial discussions were first brought forward concerning culling a growing herd of white-tailed deer in Avon Lake, city council approved legislation allowing hunting, 6-1.
Councilman Larry Meiners cast the lone “no” vote opposing the legislation.
The legislation, which has undergone numerous changes resulting in part from hours of comments —often heated— by the public, now permits culling but only by an appointee by the police department, a qualified city employee or a contractual agent. Culling will be permitted in very specific areas.
The Avon Lake Police Department would oversee the culling program and already have an officer selected as the probable sharpshooter.
Some questions remain, including exactly where sharpshooting can occur. Also not determined is what a proposed 250-foot setback means in terms of hunting area.
Several maps have been presented with the most recent attached. Several scenarios are being considered to determine what the final hunting map will look like.
“The 250-foot setback has not been determined yet,” Avon Lake Mayor Greg Zilka, who has essentially been given the responsibility of the culling program as the safety director, said.
Zilka said he would be meeting with Avon Lake Police Chief David Owad and the officer assigned to culling on Jan. 15.
The mayor said the culling area would be clearly marked.
Residents, both supporting sharpshooting and opposing the measure, have addressed council numerous times since the city council began discussing how to cull the whitetail deer herd, deemed to large for Avon Lake.
Numerous options, including allowing the public to hunt, sharpshooting by private contractors, birth control for deer, relocation and sterilization in addition to just where culling can occur, were discussed.
Program has supporters and detractors
Councilman Rob James, who is sponsoring the legislation, said he appreciated and took into account all comments, both supporting and opposing a culling program, into account. Bow hunting on private property would be permitted under certain circumstances by a designee of the police department, city appointee or contractual agents.
James said sharpshooting by private contractors was deemed too expensive
Relocation and sterilization were deemed illegal in the state of Ohio.
Contraception was not deemed legal or practical. ODNR does not permit contraception without a reduced deer population, James said.
James said he was worried about property damage by deer and safety of drivers as well as the potential for Lyme’s disease in Avon Lake.
Councilwoman Jennifer Fenderbosch wanted the legislation amended so carcasses would be available for human consumption, possibly to food kitchens.
Councilman Larry Meiners said he supported the measure.
“There’s no way to appease everyone,” Meiners said, noting that he objected to some portion, but felt it was the best legislation possible, then noted he would vote against it.
Meiners said he would vote “yes” only on legislation that included sharpshooters only and not archery so he would be voting no.
Meiners asked what the insurance policy limits were, in the event an injured deer ran off and caused damage. That information was not readily available.
It would be up to the mayor to decide if he would use the bow hunting culling option.
“Hopefully (Zilka) would be able to use other measures first,” James said.
Kos said the issue was controversial in the city and noted about half the population had concerns about hunting.
“I said at the beginning I do not opposed bow hunting, but I oppose hunting in Avon Lake,” Kos said, noting that similar cities, including Westlake, Bay Village and Rocky River have a deer problem, but no culling program.
He said, however, he would support the legislation.
“I am one person with one vote,” Kos said, noting his opposition was outnumbered on council. He credited James with working with him to ensure the legislation was amended to rule out hunting near schools, daycare and churches.
“Do I object, stomp and say ‘no, no, no’ to everything?" Kos asked. “Passing (legislation) was inevitable.”
He said it was more responsible to approve amended legislation that he agreed with, than voting it down and facing the possibility that less agreeable legislation be passed down the road.
Council President Martin O’Donnell wanted the program initiated as soon as possible, expressing concern that an accident resulting in injury or worse was otherwise inevitable. Zilka said it was possible the program could be in place by fall 2013.
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