AVON LAKE - Avon Lake will continue its white-tailed deer management program another year, citing continued deer-car crashes and the need to mitigate tick-borne diseases such as Lyme disease. The continuation allows state-approved sharpshooters to shoot deer spotted in excess near homes and businesses.

City council voted 6-0 last week to continue the program through 2020. It gives the city authority to kill deer when residents notify authorities of problems.

The city started the deer management program in 2014 after 24 deer-car crashes were reported, said Environmental Committee chairwoman Eileen Campo in an interview last week. Program sponsors also noted at the time that a deer crashed through the window of a home and a deer kicked a woman when she tried to get her dog away from the deer. In that first year, 105 deer were killed.

After four years, the number of deer-car crashes have been reduced: In 2018, there were 13. Through Sept. 5 this year, there have been five, Campo said.

In 2017, there were 14 deer-car crashes, and in 2016, there were 15. In 2015, the second year of the program, the deer-car crashes peaked at 25, according to statistics from the city.

The management program is a partnership with the Avon Lake Police Department, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and Wildlife Services. Those agencies assist in the baiting and killing of the deer and carcass removal.

The city expects to spend Extending the program another year is expected to cost up to $34,347 on the program this year, with money coming from the general fund, Campo said.

“There’s no natural predators for the deer, so we’re filling that need,” Campo said.

Many deer sightings have been in the 162-acre Kopf Reservation behind the Avon Lake Public Library and on adjacent private land. This park opened in 2008 and has two miles of asphalt trails that wind through the woodlands.

"This is not a new deer-management plan," Campo added. "The agreement still includes baiting, killing and choosing which agency to call in and remove a carcass from park property or yards of residents.”

The deer carcasses are taken to a meat is processed and donated processor and the meat donated to charities or local food pantries, Campo said. Hall Brothers Meats in Olmsted Falls, which contracts with the Department of Agriculture to process the deer meat for cities throughout the area, also will process the meat for Avon Lake, said Joe Wright, director of the city’s Public Works Department.

No one is permitted to shoot a firearm within the city limits without a deer damage control permit from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

U.S. Department of Agriculture officials or sharpshooting police officers are authorized to kill deer to control deer numbers or if they are damaging yards or gardens.

Residents can get an ODNR “deer damage permit,” which allows them to shoot the deer with a gun or bow and arrow. Police would schedule the shooting and a representative from the police or ODNR would oversee the killings. Neighbors would be alerted, Campo said.

"When we continued the white-tailed deer management program last year, we had a goal," said Campo, who believes the deer population in the city has been lower due to the less crashes and removal, as well as deer counts conducted by the USDA.

"We wanted to keep the number of deer-car crashes down to less than 20 and the number of carcass removals less than 20. This year, for the first time since the implementation of the plan in 2014, we're on track to do that."

 Mayor Greg Zilka’s disagreed with Campo on the deer population getting smaller, but agrees the program is still necessary.

"When I look out into my back yard, I can see deer on a regular basis," Zilka said. "It hasn't been that way. Every so many years, the population of deer have to be reduced to make it safe for people in the city, and we're trying to do it when conditions are favorable, or safe."

Contact this reporter at msakal@westlifenews.com, or 440-871-5797

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