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If survey results give go-ahead, Beachwood could cull deer later this year

August 21, 2018

If survey results give go-ahead, Beachwood could cull deer later this year

BEACHWOOD, Ohio -- Deer culling could be a possibility in Beachwood by year’s end, if residents say they want it.

At City Council’s Public Works Committee meeting Monday, Mayor Martin Horwitz said the subject of thinning the city’s deer population comes up frequently when he speaks with residents.

“Both block parties I was at this weekend, people asked me about deer culling,” Horwitz said.

While the mayor said the subject is not a pleasant one, it is one that must be discussed, as residents complain about deer walking through and gathering in yards and eating their plants.

“Culling is a complicated, detailed process,” Horwitz said. “You need an ODNR (Ohio Department of Natural Resources) permit. And, what needs to be done before anything else is a community survey.”

The survey, he said, would tell the city if residents want to proceed with culling, and why, and where deer are gathering.

“That survey process really needs to start now,” Horwitz said. “The culling process would start by the end of the year.”

Horwitz noted that other communities, before starting a culling program, have started with a community survey. In the summer of 2016, the City of Lyndhurst surveyed its residents via an online survey. Lyndhurst’s survey was posted, however, the summer after deer were first culled in that city.

The Lyndhurst program was the subject of protests by opponents of deer culling. In particular, protesters opposed Lyndhurst’s trap-and-bolt method, in which a bolt was put through the head, at close range, of captured deer.

Pepper Pike, beginning in 2015, began culling deer using archers. The archers only killed deer on private property where homeowners allowed culling.

Horwitz said Beachwood would look to team with neighboring Shaker Heights, and possibly Cleveland Heights, on a sharpshooting program.

In March 2016, Shaker Heights City Council approved a sharpshooting program to thin the deer population. Later that year, as culling approached, those opposed to sharpshooting deer protested in Shaker Heights.

“It’s not an issue I’m passionate about,” Beachwood Councilman James Pasch said. “My concern isn’t so much about deer eating people’s plants. My concern is for Lyme Disease. People can get really sick really fast from Lyme Disease.”

Lyme Disease is transmitted to humans through the bite of blacklegged ticks, which deer can carry.

“This is a regional problem,” said Councilman Alec Isaacson, advocating that Beachwood team with other cities. “Reducing the (deer) population in Beachwood isn’t going to help elsewhere.”

Horwitz said that if residents show in the survey that they want to proceed with culling, the city would examine the possibility of using the services of retired Shaker Heights police officer Jim Mariano, who has gone on to form Precision Wildlife Management, which culls Shaker’s deer population.

PWM lures deer from around the area to a common spot at which sharpshooters kill the deer. Horwitz said that such a shooting area would be in Beachwood, but is not yet sure where.

Beachwood Police Chief Gary Haba said that the deer population figures in Beachwood “don’t seem high to me,” but added that a culling program “should be driven by people who live here (in Beachwood).”

Haba released figures that show that deer sightings, reported deer injuries and general deer complaints in Beachwood totaled 56 in 2015, 41 in 2016 and 34 in 2017. There have been 26 thus far in 2018.

He noted that since deer wander, some of these complaints could be about the same deer.

Since 2015, police or the animal warden have dispatched 21 injured deer. The number of reported motor vehicle accidents in Beachwood involving deer since 2015 have totaled 27, with none being reported in 2018.

Committee chair and Councilman Justin Berns said that if the survey shows that residents favor deer culling, “we have to move forward.”

Council is expected to vote on administering the survey in September.

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