AVON LAKE — The city is considering new legislation that would allow landowners to have deer killed on their property.
Under the new proposal, landowners could apply for a permit and tags through the Ohio Division of Wildlife. The landowner would have to prove that the deer have damaged their plants or yard, said Mayor Greg Zilka.
Zilka said residents who receive a permit could then contract a qualified bow hunter to kill the deer on their property. City Council would have the option of vetoing any landowner’s permit, and the city’s Police Department could review the proposals.
Zilka said there also is some land — an area between Moore and Miller roads — that might be available for hunting, with permission from the landowner.
Councilman John Shondel, who chairs the Environmental Committee, said the legislation is in its infancy. Shondel said the committee still has to talk with the Ohio Division of Wildlife to draft the legislation, and the process could take two to three months to reach City Council for a vote.
Shondel said it’s evident, however, that something needs to be done. Until recently, the state has been hesitant to issue permits for damage made by deer, he said.
“There’s more and more deer, which is becoming more and more of a safety hazard,” he said. “We have to do something proactive about it. It doesn’t take care of itself.”
Shondel referred to a recent incident in November when a deer crashed through a Westwind Drive condominium. The deer had to be removed by police after it damaged the resident’s belongings.
The city has been working on a solution to the growing deer problem but has been continually meeting roadblocks.
Legislation requiring a 250-foot setback and hunting restrictions near city schools and churches have made culling an ineffective option. The city also missed out on a deer birth-control study because officials would be unable to isolate immunized deer.
Geoff Westerfield, assistant wildlife management supervisor at the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, said the Ohio Division of Wildlife issues damage permits to other communities that have experienced problems with deer.
“I really like this kind of program,” he said. “It’s not the city deciding on what the appropriate level is. It’s the residents determining their tolerance level.”
Westerfield, who has been working with the city to examine the issue of deer overpopulation, said it’s a misconception that the city hasn’t been doing anything to address the issue.
“The mayor has taken some flack from people who say he’s not doing anything, but from being in the meetings, I can tell you that we’ve actually accomplished quite a bit,” he said.