21 Aug 2014
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City Council Discusses Dangers of Deer Overpopulation

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

City Council Discusses Dangers of Deer Overpopulation

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."

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