Deer Hunting Foes Seeking to Ban Killing Through Ballot Measure
To get a referendum on the ballot to ban deer hunting, opponents must first collect signatures
Opponents of deer hunting in Solon are seeking to circumvent city council and ban the killing of deer through a vote at the ballot box.
The opponents, organized under a group called Solon Deer, plan to begin collecting signatures on Saturday in support of their ordinance.
Under state law, anyone seeking to create an ordinance by ballot measure must first collect a petition containing at least 10 percent of the city's registered voters who cast a ballot in the last governor's race. Solon Deer says they must collect 1,700 signatures by June 30.
The proposed ordinance, titled the "Solon, Ohio Deer Preservation Act" makes it illegal to "knowingly cull, hunt, kill, injure or torture" a deer in Solon. First offense is a misdemeanor punishable by a $1,000 fine. Second offense would be a felony.
"No longer duped into believing lethal methods are even remotely capable of controlling deer populations, Solon Deer is confident a ballot initiative will successfully demonstrate the majority agrees with its 21st Century stance on deer as sentient beings," the group wrote in a news release today.
It later adds: "High-powered rifles, bows and arrows and all other lethal methods simply do not belong in Solon!"
Deer management has long been a controversial issue in Solon. The issue resurfaced late last year when Solon officials explored creating a small crossbow hunting program to see how it would help manage the deer population, which had exploded since the city ended its sharpshooter program a few years ago.
That plan was scrapped, but officials are hard at work developing a comprehensive plan that includes both lethal and nonlethal methods. Those options are expected to be presented to the safety committee in early May.
Ward 7 Councilman and safety committee chairman Bill Russo said the residents have a right to seek the initiative, but he believes many of the people involved in the anti-hunting efforts are from outside of Solon.
He said Solon officials will continue developing their deer management plans.
"That's the right of any resident to start an initiative," Russo said. "In the meantime, we have to operate with the facts at hand, and the facts say there's a need to address."