December 21, 2014

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Avon Lake deer culling ordinance signed into law

Avon Lake Mayor Greg Zilka discusses a recent deer attack as Police Chief Duane Streator listens. BRUCE BISHOP/CHRONICLE

Avon Lake Mayor Greg Zilka discusses a recent deer attack as Police Chief Duane Streator listens. BRUCE BISHOP/CHRONICLE

AVON LAKE — The city’s deer culling ordinance was signed into law Tuesday after city and state officials laid out the details of how deer will be killed.

Avon Lake Mayor Greg Zilka, along with members of the Police Department, City Council and the Ohio Division of Wildlife, held a press conference at the city’s safety center and said deer culling legislation enacted a year and a half ago was ineffective, restrictive and did nothing to address problems.

“The restrictions and limitations on it created a situation where virtually no property could be utilized for reducing the deer population,” Zilka said.

That prompted city officials to continue looking at ways to address the deer population and finally ink a stronger law to allow culling. Even without such a law, property owners able to show deer damaged their property had been able to obtain deer damage control permits through the Ohio Division of Wildlife to shoot deer with archery equipment any time of the year.

Under the city’s new law, property owners must apply for a municipal deer control permit through the Police Department, in addition to the deer damage control permit, and the Police Department then will visit properties on a case-by-case basis to determine whether hunters will be allowed to shoot on that property.

Ohio Division of Wildlife officer Randy White said when deer are killed, hunters must report the kill to both police and the state. He added that any type of deer — does, bucks and fawns — are up for grabs.

Avon Lake Police Chief Duane Streator said the new law will provide residents of Avon Lake the opportunity to address deer problems. He added that it won’t be open hunting season in Avon Lake.

“The landowner has to recognize they have the issue and the problem, and it gives them the avenues to address that,” Streator said.

Zilka said he empathizes with those who do not want to see deer shot within city limits, or those who fear wounded deer with arrows sticking out of them might wind up on someone else’s property. But such concerns are outweighed by the need to do something, he said, especially since deer have jumped through homeowners’ windows, run into cars and attacked one resident.

Zilka said there were three known cases of poaching within city limits in the past year, which he said highlights the need for regulation since some are already taking matters into their own hands.

“To do nothing is also an unsafe situation,” Zilka said.

City Council member John Schondel, referencing March 2013 helicopter surveys where deer were counted, said there may be more than 220 deer in the city. About 900 acres in the city could be considered natural habitat for deer, he added.

According to information provided by the Ohio Division of Wildlife, 90 deer damage control permits were issued to residents of Lorain County in the past three years. It will be at least 30 days before the new ordinance takes effect and the city begins to issue its own municipal deer control permits.

White said the majority of complaints he hears from Avon Lake residents regard browse and rub damage to landscaping.

“I try to tell people that deer in their natural habitat go around and browse on different things,” White said. “When you put in all this landscaping, you’re essentially planting a buffet for them.”

Contact Jon Wysochanski at 329-7123 or jwysochanski@chroniclet.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonWysochanski.