Deer Plan Provides Lethal Options, But Decision Rests with City Council
The plan provides a list of options, including sharpshooting, crossbow hunting and combined trapping and euthanasia. Non-lethal methods are also discussed
Solon's deer management plan recommends a trio of lethal options to thin the deer herd plus a number of non-lethal methods to augment the effort.
What methods are used is ultimately up to the city council, which will begin debating the plan starting tonight at the safety committee meeting. That meeting is already under way.
The plan, put together by Public Works Commissioner Jim Stanek, offers three lethal options: trapping and euthanasia, crossbow hunting and sharpshooting.
Trapping and euthanasia would be used in areas where residents are concerned about safety and hunting is not an option. Crossbow hunting, the same program the city considered and scrapped earlier this year, would be attempted on city-owned property, and is the least-expensive lethal option.
Sharpshooting – hiring snipers to attract deer to fixed locations and shoot them – is the most controversial option. The city used a sharpshooting program between 2005 and 2009. The program was expensive but effective. More than 1,300 deer were culled during the program.
Eight non-lethal options are presented, including a ban on deer feeding, repellents, fencing and patrol dogs. But many of the options are dismissed as unproven or ineffective.
The idea of using "deer parks" – food-rich areas created to attract deer and keep them away from the roads – is being investigated. But one major problem is that deer parks can't be used with lethal methods, according to the plan.
The reason Solon officials are putting together a deer management plan is that the population has exploded in recent years, causing the number of deer/car accidents to rise. There were 450 deer and 45 accidents in 2009. In 2011, city officials project more than 1,069 deer and 91 accidents.
The plan says a safe level of deer density is 10 to 15 deer per square mile. In 2010, there were 34 deer per square mile in Solon.
"Decisions will need to be made determining what is deemed 'tolerable' as it relates to deer vehicle accidents and crop/landscape damage," the proposal reads.
Check back to Solon Patch Thursday for more coverage of this issue. Also follow along with the meeting on Twitter.