Residents have reported that the city’s large deer population — which was once estimated to be 250 to 300 deer — have been eating their plants and running into roadways, causing accidents. City Councilman Dave Kos said a deer census that was completed in March via a helicopter recorded 153 deer in the city.
The surveys were proposed by Geoff Westerfield, assistant wildlife management supervisor at ODNR. Westerfield said the surveys will pinpoint the areas and the residents that have deer trouble, and they have been successfully used in other cities that have similar problems.
“Most of the time, in these cities, it’s not deer that are the problem, it’s the calls from people about the deer that are coming into City Council,” he said.
Kos said he thinks the surveys will help, but he criticized the ODNR for not getting involved sooner.
“I’m disappointed that this survey is coming out now instead of two years ago when this survey was really needed,” he said.
Westerfield said the ODNR has been committed to helping AvonLake with its deer problem, however, and he said the city has been making strides.
“It’s probably been in the works for about a year … we’re continuing to work with them. The city has been progressively moving forward,” he said. “It just takes time, and unfortunately, that’s what people don’t understand.”
The city passed legislation in January that authorized Mayor Greg Zilka, Police Chief David Owad and other city officials to develop a plan for controlling the deer population, but the city has long debated on ways to do it.
Some have suggested killing the deer by using bow hunting and sharpshooters, something Kos has spoken against.
“Our city is too developed and dense to conduct a culling/hunting operation like they do in other areas,” he said. “There is a reason Bay Village isn’t doing this. There is a reason Rocky River isn’t doing this.”
Kos said he believes the solution is to join a birth control study that was offered by TuftsUniversity, but he said the university would not commit to the study until the city would commit to not killing the animals.
Kos said, in the fall, the city will be installing high-tech signs in “hot spots” where there have been car versus deer traffic accidents. The signs will be provided by The Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency and the Ohio Department of Transportation as part of a pilot study.
The city has several high-tech options from which to choose, including signs with flashing lights to warn motorists that a deer is approaching or signs that produce a noise that is audible to only deer and will scare them away, Kos said.
After the study, Kos said the city is responsible for the upkeep of the signs, which he said is minimal compared to the purchase price.
“They’re some pretty neat stuff, and they’ve been used successfully,” he said, adding that the study is to see how well they can be implemented in suburban areas.
Kos said City Council will decide what future steps to take after receiving the results of the city-wide survey, which he said will likely be shared with the mayor, police department and ODNR.
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