Silver Lake -- The village's leader has recommended that Council consider putting the question of implementing a deer culling program before voters this fall.
If the measure was favored by a majority of voters and program was started, Mayor Bernie Hovey noted that the village would still have a good portion of the hunting season to thin the herd.
Hovey said he felt Council needed to come up with a specific program rather than just asking voters if they favor the concept or not.
Robert Heydorn, the village's solicitor, clarified that such a ballot measure would be designed to acquire voters' opinions about the program rather than asking them to enact it.
Hovey on April 17 made the ballot issue recommendation as he presented Council with revised legislation on the issue. Hovey said it was an altered version of the original measure that he gave Council a few months ago. Hovey initiated the first measure after he said many residents expressed concerns to him about deer in terms of safety for motorists and due to destruction of plants and other vegetation.
Hovey said he rewrote the legislation based on feedback he received from Council and residents. This newest proposal is only in draft form and has not been officially read into the record at a Council meeting. The proposal, if approved, would only allow bow and arrow hunting from an elevated position. The mayor would be in charge of selecting and approving hunters. Residents would need to give consent for hunting to occur on their land (See accompanying information box for more details).
"I am not married to this proposal at all," emphasized Hovey. "I just tried to put one together based on the comments I'd been hearing for the past month or six weeks."
Hovey said it is important for the village to have a commitment from hunters that they will go out and hunt in places where they are permitted to go.
The mayor said one hunter would be allowed to take 10 deer, nine does and a buck. He added the legislation would give him the authority to set limits on the number of deer that may be taken. He noted ODNR official Geoff Westerfield told him that removing about 15 to 20 deer should address the problem.
Hovey said while the proposal states no hunting shall occur on land less than 4 acres, he said Council may change the figure however they wish.
Areas that Hovey, along with an ODNR official and Heydorn, identified for potential hunting of deer are:
The nature reserve area behind village hall;
about 7 or 8 acres of woods abutting Crystal Lake;
ravines near Kingston Circle; and
the north end of Dover Road.
Silver Lake Country Club will not allow hunting on their property, said Hovey.
Village officials discuss the issue
Heydorn said Westerfield told him six or seven area communities put the question on the ballot and each approved deer culling "overwhelmingly" with 60 to 70 percent of voters favoring the issue. He noted it is difficult to gauge the residents' overall views on the issue based on who shows up to speak at Council meetings.
Council member Matthew Plesich (District D) said, "I think that's why it would be nice to put it on the ballot because we'd have something to look at."
Council member Christopher Scott (District A) said he felt Council first needed to decide whether they were for or against culling the herd, and then, if they favored culling, how they would go about it.
"I'm all for doing something here," said Scott.
"I've struggled with it as well," said Council President Jerry Jones (At Large). "But I've come to the conclusion that if we do anything, we only do it back here (pointing to the nature reserve area behind village hall). That's the only thing I would vote for."
"I also feel that the [nature] reserve is the only viable area," added Mayor Bernie Hovey.
Jones then noted he felt hunting in the reserve area is "not going to impact much."
Heydorn asked, "Then why do you want them to go back there?"
"Because everybody's screaming about it," answered Jones.
Council Vice President Carol Steiner (District B) noted some residents expressed concerns about the spread of Lyme Disease due to the rising deer population. She said a recent visit with her pet's veterinarian told her that ticks are going up in general and it is not just due to an increasing deer population. Steiner asked Village Police Chief John Conley to find out how many car accidents had recently occurred involving deer. Even if some deer are killed, Steiner said the remaining animals will still eat residents' vegetation.
Heydorn said projects to sterilize deer are "expensive" and can control the population in circumstances where there is a "stable" population in an enclosed area. The projects have not been successful in areas like the village where the deer can freely move about.
Council will meet again on May 1 at 7 p.m. in Village Hall, 2961 Kent Road.
Residents share concerns
Three residents visiting Council on April 17 voiced their opposition to the potential effort to cull deer.
Resident Aimee Bauer said the potential culling of deer is "very upsetting to us. I'm totally against it."
She added she supported, "Anything we can do humanely for the deer because I think the life of a deer is a little more important than somebody's hosta plant in their front yard."
Resident Vicky Marimon asked Council to "consider humane ways to control the deer population in Silver Lake."
Marimon added she's spoken with Clifton Deer Project officials (near Cincinnati) about their work controlling the deer population through sterilization and noted representatives are willing to visit a Council meeting to discuss the program.
"Bow hunting is inhumane," said Marimon, who noted she discussed that method with a deer management company official hired by the Clifton Deer Project. "He said that (using bow and arrow) is a slow, painful death."
She added the Clifton Deer Project was completely funded by grants and noted there was a 49 percent reduction in the deer population in the area where the effort occurred.
"I'm willing to look into and write the grants if I have to," stated Marimon.
Resident Devon Feriance said the village should try to get a count of the deer and then noted she favored long-term measures such as ovariectomies.