Bay Village City Council passes resolution on deer
The deer population has been a topic of discussion in Bay Village for several years. Numerous public meetings have been held, various points of view have been expressed and City Council has received a great deal of input from constituents on the subject.
On June 27, City Council, in consultation with the Mayor, passed a resolution establishing a series of milestones and timelines leading to the development of a comprehensive deer population management plan for the City of Bay Village.
This resolution documents Council’s concern that the deer population is negatively affecting public health and safety, primarily through motor vehicle accidents. The number of accidents involving deer has been growing steadily in recent years, increasing threefold from 11 in 2010 to 33 in 2015. In addition to reported accidents, the city’s service department also picked up 36 deer carcasses last year – some of which may have arisen from unreported accidents. Accidents involving deer can result in injuries, medical expenses, vehicle repair costs and duress for all involved.
Council also recognized that the deer population is causing economic harm to residents, primarily through damage to private property. Several members of Council have received complaints about these events, but no centralized database currently exists to compile such reports. Other cities, such as Solon, have online forms for residents to report deer-related damage as well as databases to aggregate those reports into useful information.
Finally, Council acknowledged that the deer population may be negatively affecting biodiversity, natural habitats or ecology within the city. Nearby cities, such as Avon Lake, have assessed the effects of the deer population on their flora and fauna; however, Bay Village has not yet undertaken such an assessment.
Last year, Bay Village authorized Avon Lake to include Walker Road Park, which is jointly owned by the two cities, in Avon Lake’s deer population management program. That program, which was developed in collaboration with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) and implemented in partnership with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), reduced the size of the herd in Avon Lake by nearly one-third last winter without harm to people, pets or property.
To address the aforementioned concerns and build upon the experience gained with Avon Lake, Bay Village’s new resolution lays out three key milestones:
First, the resolution asks Mayor Debbie Sutherland and Director of Public Safety Scott Thomas to begin reporting the number motor vehicle accidents involving deer and the number of deer carcass pick-ups to Council on a monthly basis beginning this September. This will allow Council and the public to more accurately understand the public health and safety risk posed by the deer population and to monitor trends in the future.
Second, the resolution calls for the creation of a form, to be made available online by this October, through which residents may report deer-related damage to private property. This will allow residents to formally report damages, permit the city to aggregate the reports into useful information, and provide Council and the public with better insights into the breadth, scale and distribution of these events.
Third, the resolution encourages the City to collaborate with the ODNR to develop a safe and effective “Comprehensive Deer Population Management Plan” and an associated budget. Key elements of the plan and budget are expected to include surveys to document the size of the herd, assessments of the herd’s effect on the city’s ecology, various deer population management programs, and protocols to monitor the effectiveness of the plan in addressing the stated concerns. The plan and budget are targeted for completion by April 2017.
What does this mean for you as a Bay Village resident? First, inform the police about all accidents involving deer, even if no one is seriously injured, so that accurate statistics can be recorded. Second, report damage caused by deer to your property each time it occurs using the new form (once it becomes available this fall). Finally, as always, contact your City Council representatives to share your questions, concerns and opinions.
Tom Henderson is the Ward 4 representative to Bay Village City Council.