Mentor City Council opened the door for greater participation in the city's deer management program Tuesday with some amendments to the legislation.
Before, white-tailed deer hunters could only do so on
five-acre-or-more land parcels, or on a combination of contiguous properties that collectively totaled five acres, or more or on three contiguous parcels equal to or greater than five acres. Now, hunting is also allowed on parcels less than five acres or contiguous parcels not exceeding five acres if the city determines the land contains at least three acres of land where hunting can take place.
City Manager Ken Filipiak said the change allows a program that had "success" last year to be expanded. It also takes into account that there were no issues of public safety during last year's hunting program.
"We're trying to introduce a little more flexibility into some of the rules to allow greater participation, to allow certain areas of the city where we have deer-related problems still occurring that we weren't really able to get into because of some of the strictness of the rules when we originally introduced this program," he said.
The amendment passed 6-1, with councilman Robert Shiner placing the only dissenting vote. Council nearly passed an amendment that would have allowed hunting on Sundays, but ultimately decided against it.
The approved amendment also allows for city-owned property to be added to private property to meet acreage requirements as long as the city property isn't used for park purposes. The city manager and police chief would have to approve those uses. To that end, Chief Kevin Knight said he would be very selective.
"Public safety remains our No. 1 priority and we're not going to jeopardize public safety in any way or means to allow additional hunting areas," Knight said. "We denied some five-acre areas last year because there was a narrow track even though it met (requirements) on paper ... When it comes down to huntable acres, we define that ourselves. It's whatever we feel.
"Trust me, if it's close to residential, I'm not going to be that quick to approve it if there's any chance there's a safety issue."
Nick Mikash, the city's natural resource specialist, said he wasn't yet sure how many additional properties would be open to hunting following the legislative changes. Knight believes the cutoff for approval from him would be in November, when the city gears up for culling.
"These new properties, (natural resources) will look at them, my guys will go look at them and if there's any questions at all, I'll go look at them," Knight said. "We really look at them closely, where we use aerial photographs, topography and all that."
How do you feel about these changes? Let us know in the comments.