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Silver Lake -- Village Council is continuing its examination of a deer culling initiative.
Taking center stage on June 19 were two hunters that village officials invited to comment on their experience with deer culling programs.
Council on May 15 said they wanted to set up a deer culling program on village-owned nature reserve property behind Village Hall and are now trying fine-tune a draft ordinance that, if approved, would implement the initiative. The current draft ordinance proposes allowing only bow and arrow hunting from an elevated position during the archery hunting season. The mayor would be in charge of selecting and approving hunters.
Jason Pullin said he has participated in the city of Hudson's controlled deer hunting program for the last three seasons. Hudson goes through a lottery process to select 12 hunters to hunt on about 150 acres of public land south of Hines Hill Road. Prospective hunters must go through a competency course and receive a certification. He said Hudson requires a hunter's safety license, a deer license, deer permits and that the hunter carry $100,000 in personal liability insurance. The paperwork is submitted to the police chief, who determines whether the hunter is approved for the program. Hunters also have to obtain a permit to hunt on private land.
Pullin said hunters must shoot from at least 8 feet off the ground and must report the harvesting of a deer within 24 hours to the city. He stated the culling "reduces the total number of deer and I think that makes it safer for residents and people who drive through that community."
Pullin noted that anywhere from four to six deer were taken during each of the three seasons he participated in the program. If a deer is shot and goes on "someone else's land," Pullin said the hunter must call police to receive a police escort to go on the property to look for the animal. The hunting occurs during the archery season, which is from the last Saturday in September to the first Sunday in February. Since Hudson was doing a "controlled hunt" with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, each hunter was allowed to shoot 10 deer each season, according to Pullin.
Each of the three deer Pullin has shot as part of the program "expired within 20 seconds," he said.
While noting shooting a deer with a gun in "the right spot ... [is] more humane than a bow," Pullin said using a bow and arrow to kill a deer is "more humane than them getting hit by a car."
Recently, Silver Lake residents told Council that they weren't seeing as many deer. Pullin said deer typically give birth from mid-May to July and female deer are with their fawns in the woods more. Also there is more natural vegetation in the forests, which means the animals wouldn't travel as much into backyards for food.
Mike Kaser, a village resident who has participated in the Summit Metro Parks' deer culling program for the last five years, said 22 deer were harvested among four hunters in a 12-week period while hunting on 200 acres last year, he said.
The number of deer that were shot in the Metro Parks' program has declined each year during the five-year period he has been involved, said Kaser, who added the hunters in the program must be certified on an annual basis.
The arrows "do not ricochet," and will stick in the ground, according to Kaser, who noted the hunters typically shoot from an elevation of about 20 to 25 feet. Kaser said he would only take a shot from 20 yards or less. Kaser said in the Metro Parks there are rules that hikers are not to exit the trails and hunters must hunt at least 70 yards away from a trail.
Kaser said it's "very unlikely" that a wounded deer would continue wandering for a lengthy distance.
"I can't say it doesn't happen," added Kaser. " but we haven't really had many issues with it."
He said the deer meat is taken to Duma's in Brimfield, which processes and donates the meat to Harvest for Hunger.
Kaser noted he felt there was an overabundance of deer in the village.
"At my house, [I've] seen different groups of deer over and over again," said Kaser.
He said Council's plan to target a specific area will yield an initial impact, but then the deer will start to "make their way away from it because they'll feel hunting pressure."
At certain times of they year, Kaser said he will hunt all day. In the winter, hunting usually occurs only in the mid to late afternoon.
About 35-40 people attended the meeting on June 19. Some residents who spoke felt that the village should put the issue on the ballot for residents to share their thoughts. Others wanted the village to perform a study to determine how many deer were in the municipality. One resident expressed support for the culling efforts and another said she was "not opposed to culling." Some speakers encouraged village officials to examine alternative methods of controlling the deer population.
Signs with the message "Save the deer in Silver Lake" have been placed in many village yards.
Later in the meeting, Village Solicitor Robert Heydorn said Council could put the measure on the ballot for residents to offer their advice, but Council would not be legally obligated to abide by the outcome of such a vote.
Council's next meeting is July 17 at 7 p.m. in Village Hall, 2961 Kent Road.