December 21, 2014

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Avon Lake deer control in state’s hands

Deer are shown in Kopf Family Reservation in Avon Lake last September. CHRONICLE FILE PHOTO

Deer are shown in Kopf Family Reservation in Avon Lake last September. CHRONICLE FILE PHOTO

The city of Avon Lake is putting its deer problem in the hands of the Ohio Division of Wildlife.

City officials have discussed deer overpopulation for the past year, passing legislation that authorized the director of public safety to develop and implement a management plan under the Avon Lake Police Department.

But Mayor Greg Zilka, who is also the director of public safety, reported that an effective deer management plan could not be established.

Zilka, who addressed the issue during a committee meeting earlier this week, said, under the rules spelled out in the legislation last year, he was required to develop a plan by the end of the deer hunting season this year. While working with the Avon Lake Police Department and the Ohio Division of Wildlife, the police chief could not find a single parcel of land that met the mandated five-acre requirement, along with permission of the landowner, for the purpose of deer culling.

The legislation also called for a 250-foot setback requirement and restricted hunting near schools and church properties, according to a report provided by Zilka.

The city also missed out on a deer birth control study conducted by Tufts University.

In August, Councilman Dave Kos said the university would not commit to conducting the study in Avon Lake because city officials were still discussing culling or hunting deer, which the university opposed.

Zilka’s report indicated that the university also concluded that the study could not be conducted in the area because the city was unable to isolate the deer that would have been immunized as part of the immune-fertilization program.

City officials are waiting for a grant from the Ohio Department of Transportation to install signs at areas where deer and car collisions are prevalent.

Because of the difficulties finding a solution, city officials agreed to leave deer management to the Ohio Division of Wildlife.

Geoff Westerfield, assistant wildlife management supervisor at the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, suggested the agency handle the issue. Council President Martin O’Donnell agreed to help draft legislation, which will go to the Council’s Environmental Coammittee.

A deer census completed in March recorded 153 deer in the city.

Approximately 35 percent of Avon Lake residents who completed a deer survey last year indicated that they had seen deer daily on their property. Almost half of those surveyed said they have encountered a deer on the roadway at least once a week.

Contact Chelsea Miller at 329-7123 or cmiller@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter @ChelseaMillerCT.