The city will hire sharpshooters to kill 35 deer this fall and winter that officials hope will limit the property damage caused by deer and reduce car-deer accidents.
Meanwhile, Cleveland Metroparks will plan to use its own sharpshooters to kill deer in Huntington Reservation, yet they do not know how many right now. North Olmsted and Westlake are also initiating deer culling throughout their cities.
City officials are working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources on the program, which is expected to start in November and wrap up in January. Council unanimously approved the program Oct. 28.
Sharpshooters will hunt at night in sectioned-off areas of publicly owned land and use thermal optics with silenced hunting rifles.
“The deer do not suffer. They’re taken out immediately,” Police Chief Mark Spaetzel said. “There’s no chance of the deer just being harmed and running away. These sharpshooters are really good at what they do and they do it very effectively.”
The city wants to kill 10 more deer than last year’s total of 25. This is the second consecutive year for the program that follows a resident survey about deer.
About 400 residents responded to the 14-question survey in September. Most said they believe the city’s deer population has increased. One in four respondents said they have seen deer on their property and 83% have experienced an issue involving deer, according to the survey.
“The deer population and the damage they cause to properties in the community are always of top concern for our residents,” Councilman at-large Marty Mace said. “This program is necessary to answer their concerns.”
The program is estimated to cost the city $24,000, but officials believe it will be less. Once the contract is approved, the USDA will conduct a helicopter survey to estimate Bay’s deer population.
“It’s very difficult to determine deer populations because they’re mobile and hide in places we can’t see,” Spaetzel said. “Despite this, we’re still seeing at this point an increasing herd.”
Besides Cleveland Metroparks, the city will work with Avon Lake at Walker Road Park, which Bay and Avon Lake jointly own and operate.
Last year, the city in conjunction with Avon Lake and the Cleveland Metroparks killed 45 deer. A total of 800 pounds of meat was collected and donated to Second Harvest Food Bank of North Central Ohio in Lorain. The city is hoping to do the same with the deer meat collected this year, Mace said.
Police recorded 12 deer-related vehicle accidents in 2018 in Bay Village. This year 11 had been reported through September. However, Spaetzel expects that number to rise.
“We’re not just killing deer for the sake of killing deer,” Spaetzel said. “We’re killing them because the public and administration has recognized that we have an overabundance of deer that are causing damage and negatively affecting people’s lives. We don’t want to eliminate them all. We’re just trying to reduce the impact that deer have in the community.”
Contact this reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org or 440-871-5797.