Silver Lake -- Mayor Bernie Hovey has asked Village Council to discuss whether it wants the village to move forward with a deer population control program.
Hovey recently provided Council with a draft ordinance to address the issue and has asked them for feedback on it. Official legislation has not moved forward because Hovey said he wants Council to discuss the matter and determine whether it wants to take action.
"I need Council to discuss it and decide if this is something they want to do," said Hovey. "It will be a controversial issue if we do it, without a doubt. I don't want it to be a controversial issue from the government end of it. I want the mayor on board and Council on board. If one or the other balk at it, then I would not push for it."
Hovey said he's asked Council to discuss the issue at its next meeting on Feb. 6 at 7 p.m. in Village Hall, 2961 Kent Road.
Hovey added he feels the village needs "to do something about the deer. I think they're an issue."
While noting there are many residents who would not want the village to touch the deer, Hovey stated, "There are probably a majority of people that say (the deer are) dangerous. They destroy vegetation, flowers. They're dangerous on the roads."
A few years ago, Hovey said the feedback he heard from residents was about "50-50" in terms of either thinning the herd or leaving the animals alone. During the last two to three years, Hovey said the sentiments from residents have been "predominantly: 'we have to do something about the deer. There's too many of them.'"
"I've had people send me pictures of their lawns that are covered in deer feces because they're just bedding down there," said Hovey. "I've had people show me where a fawn was at their patio and when they went out the door, the mother [of the fawn] would almost attack the resident. It scared the living daylights out of them."
Now, he estimates that 70 percent of citizens want the deer population reduced in the village.
He added that officials have time to make a decision because if a program is implemented, it would only be done during deer season which runs from September through sometime in February. The mayor said he made that decision after meeting with an Ohio Department of Natural Resources representative.
Noting he is not certain how many deer are in the village, Hovey said the ODNR official told him "if we got rid of 15-20 deer a year, that would probably solve our problem."
The draft ordinance that the mayor provided to Council states: "The current population of deer in the Village is deemed a public nuisance, therefore, a permit may be issued by the Director of Public Safety, to reduce the number of deer in the Village."
According to the draft ordinance, residents can apply for a deer control permit. The mayor, in his role as public safety director, would be charged with approving the permit "after identifying areas of opportunity in the village and the safety factors involved," the draft ordinance states. The proposal also notes that residents who apply for a permit must consent to implementing the program on their property and that they must arrange for the hunter or hunters that they want to use, but their selection "shall be approved" by the mayor.
Hovey added that multiple homes in a particular area would have to consent to having hunting occur on the properties "so there's a large enough area."
Bow and arrow hunting from an elevated position is the only method that would be allowed in the potential population control program, according to the proposal.
As part of approving the permit, the mayor would also establish guidelines on the number of deer to be taken and the period of time in which hunting would be allowed on certain properties. He also would be in charge of designating certain areas of the village where hunting can occur.
The proposal also stipulates "Any deer shot must be followed and removed from the village, permission of the landowner must be obtained."
No costs will be incurred by the village if the program is implemented, according to the proposal.