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Upcoming Vote on Deer Hunting Looms Over Solon's Deer Plans

While Solon City Council moves toward approving a plan that includes killing deer to control the population, a law that bans killing the animals will be put before the voters

The Solon City Council inched to approving a deer management plan that uses lethal methods to control the population.

Legislation is being prepared that mirrors the recommended by the safety committee. That plan includes the use of a crossbow hunting program and sharpshooting, likely contracted out to the .

A pilot crossbow hunting program -- and then earlier this year -- could begin as early as late September if the legislation is approved by city council.

But looming over city council's plans is the Solon Deer Preservation Act, a resident-led initiative to in the city. That proposed law will be in November.

If it passes, it will directly conflict with Solon's deer plans.

Law Director Thomas Lobe said the city has some options if it passes. They could appeal to the courts to resolve the conflicting ordinances or they could vote to repeal one of the ordinance, but repealing an ordinance approved by the voters would be a politically risky action to take.

Public Works Commissioner Jim Stanek is in discussions with the U.S. Department of Agriculture about managing Solon's deer plans and leading the sharpshooting effort.

Solon expects to have a deer herd reaching 900 to 1000 animals, up from less than 700 last year. 

Stanek said about 300 deer would have to be killed to just make the population stable. 

While most city council members support some sort of deer management, including lethal methods, not all of the members are happy with the idea of another deer culling program.

Ward 2 Councilman Bob Pelunis said the city spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on sharpshooting earlier this decade, only to stop the program and have the deer problem become as bad if not worse than it was before.

"What do we really have to show for that money?" he said. "We keep coming back to the same position."

Stanek said that the way that most communities maintain a deer population at a stable level is through annual hunting programs, that are basically cost-free and allow the sharpshooting costs to become drastically reduced.

Whether city council has the stomach for a hunting program -- such as the crossbow plan -- remains to be seen. 

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