AVON LAKE — Grab a crossbow, obtain the proper paperwork and you’re on your way to taking part in deer culling efforts in this lakeside community.
Avon Lake City Council passed an ordinance Monday night allowing the city and private citizens to manage white-tailed deer populations with the use of archery equipment.
Passage took nearly two hours as City Council members and other officials bantered about potential amendments, legislative language and points of order.
Deer culling has been discussed since 2012, and the city enacted a previous culling ordinance which they ultimately decided was too restrictive. The new legislation permits the taking of deer with archery equipment as long as an application for a municipal deer control permit is submitted to police with maps detailing where hunting will occur, the property’s total acreage, signatures of all property owners, names and ages of all shooters who will be on the property, shooters’ Ohio hunting license verification and proof of completion of the Ohio hunter education course.
The police chief or his designee will visit properties to determine that shooting archery equipment is safe.
City Council member Dave Kos, 4th Ward, introduced several amendments to the ordinance on June 30, including minimum acreage requirements, excluding culling or hunting operations on properties adjacent to schools or day care centers, and conducting criminal background checks on those applying for deer control permits.
Officials said Kos’ amendments were the reason the previous ordinance was ineffective. Kos withdrew several of the proposed amendments June 30 to give his colleagues two more weeks to consider them.
Only one of those proposed amendments, requiring shooting to be conducted from a fixed, elevated position at least 10 feet off the ground, was added to the legislation on June 30. But this requirement also may be waived by the police chief, according to ordinance language.
At Monday night’s meeting, Kos again introduced amendments. One, which failed on a 3-3 vote (council president Martin O’Donnell was absent), would have made shooting within 100 yards of a school illegal unless the police chief approved it.
Another amendment that passed requires notifying neighbors of property where bow hunters plan to shoot.
“I’m grateful I got the notification passed because I believe every resident wants to be notified if there is hunting next door,” Kos said. “But how anyone could approve of hunting within 100 yards of a school is beyond me.”
About three dozen residents attended the meeting, but only three spoke regarding the legislation — one in favor of it and two opposed. Elaine Hilliard said she is concerned with what she sees as a lack of safety details in ordinance language and the potential for accidents caused by hunters with inadequate skills or equipment.
“It’s one of the reasons I choose to live in a city and not a rural area,” she said.
Resident Margaret Artin said she questions allowing culling efforts to occur 365 days a year.
“I feel this misguided program will end with much trouble and expense for Avon Lake,” she said.
Resident Ken Kaminski said he has no problem with the city’s approach. Kaminski said he spoke on behalf of several neighbors whose properties amounted to nearly 3.5 acres where he’s counted at least 24 deer.
“All three families support the current deer legislation,” Kaminski said. “I think it’s a practical way to approach the problem.”
Officials maintain deer culling is necessary because of an excessive number of deer-related vehicular accidents, destruction of natural habitats, increases in the risk of disease transmission to humans from deer parasites, and damage to public and private property.
According to ordinance language, the city’s Environmental Affairs Advisory Board studied various options to control the deer population and received input from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and other municipalities before recommending that Council adopt a comprehensive deer management program.
Zilka said as long as citizens take the proper steps and get a deer culling agricultural permit, they can bow hunt any time of the year. The mayor said he’s pleased an ordinance passed despite the hurdles and confusion.
“It’s a big improvement over what we had and I’m pleased with that,” Zilka said.
Kos maintained the ordinance is not safe and he stood by his desire to see additional safety amendments added. At one point, the audience applauded him.
“I am going to walk out of here with my head held high because I am doing what I think are sensible, decent things,” Kos said.