Will Solon Use White Buffalo Again for Deer Sharpshooting?
Public Works Commissioner Jim Stanek is investigating other sharpshooting options, but said White Buffalo is still interested in working with Solon
Will White Buffalo, the controversial sharpshooting company that culled deer for Solon a few years ago, take aim again at Solon's deer herd?
Public Works Commissioner Jim Stanek said the Connecticut-based company remains interested in working with Solon as it moves forward on its comprehensive deer management plan.
Stanek has told city council that he hopes to have cost estimates from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to manage Solon's deer program by Monday's meeting.
And the USDA has a relationship with White Buffalo. Stanek said that Andy Monteney, the Ohio USDA official he is in discussions with, trained Anthony DeNicola, White Buffalo's president and CEO.
One difficulty for the city is that White Buffalo is a lightning rod for anti-hunting activists. The other problem is that White Buffalo may be the only professional option if the city wants to use sharpshooting.
Ward 6 Councilman Ed Kraus said White Buffalo was the only bid city officials received earlier in the decade when they started sharpshooting, and may be the only professional option available in the United States.
Stanek said he is searching for other companies comparable to White Buffalo, and has interest from others, but safety and professionalism are a big concern.
"There are people interested in doing that, but I'd be concerned about experience and credentials," Stanek said.
Solon's original White Buffalo contract angered animal rights groups and residents against lethal deer culling, who argued that there are more humane ways to manage the deer population. They protested at meetings and came out in force to fight the decision.
In January 2006, Solon resident Belinda Geiger was arrested and accused with menacing, stalking and threatening DeNicola.
The criminal case against Geiger was dismissed in 2007, but Geiger also sued the city and DeNicola. That lawsuit was settled in 2008 with the city and White Buffalo paying Geiger $12,500 each, according to the newspaper.
From 2004 to 2009, White Buffalo killed more than 1,000 deer in Solon, cutting the herd from more than 900 in 2004 to about 450 in 2009.
The number of deer-car accidents dropped as a result from 165 in 2004 to 45 in 2009.
Stanek has said that sharpshooting is the most efficient way to cull the deer herd, but the downside is that it's expensive, costing about $400 per deer.
For example, bow hunting, another lethal method city council is considering, is essentially free, because the costs are offset by fees charged to hunters.