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With Deer Law Defeated, Solon Prepares to Hunt

Mayor Susan Drucker said the city will likely conduct deer culling operations early next year.

The hunt is on in Solon.

On Tuesday, voters soundly rejected a proposed law to ban deer hunting in town, with about 62 percent of residents voting to reject the hunting ban.

Now city officials -- who have been working for months to prepare deer culling efforts in the event the hunting ban was defeated -- are scheduling meetings, securing properties for culling operations and getting ready to begin reducing the deer population.

Mayor Susan Drucker said culling operations -- which will be overseen by the U.S. Department of Agriculture -- will likely begin early next year.

Ward 7 Councilman Bill Russo, the city's chief supporter of culling efforts, said the results show that Solon voters have supported the city's culling efforts.

"I think the residents were behind the culling that was done back in 2004-05 and I think they realized there is a comprehensive plan and they want to give the administration all the tools needed to control the deer population and control deer-vehicle accidents," Russo said.

But deer-hunting opponents, who were very vocal in the run-up to the election, say that Solon leaders must not ignore the more than 3,000 voters who wanted to ban hunting.

"This is a strong and clear mandate that city hall must take a very serious look at their plan and improve it to be a more balanced plan, to represent the wishes of the electorate," said resident John Nolan, one of the most visible opponents of deer hunting. "The city already admits in principal that a comprehensive plan should include both lethal and non-lethal methods, but their adopted plan falls far short of serious non-lethal methods."

Russo said that he's tired of residents saying that the city's plan pays short shrift to non-lethal methods.

"We are going to use all of the tools in the plan," Russo said. "The proponents think that we are not addressing the non-lethal means. But that is in the plan."

Solon officials created the deer management plan because 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.

The comprehensive plan offers three lethal options: trapping and euthanasia, 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. 

Crossbow hunting would be used to supplement culling to reduce the cost, Russo said. Drucker said crossbow hunting won't happen this year because it's already in the middle of bow-hunting season.

"We are not going to do the bowhunting this year," Drucker said. "That time came and went."

Sharpshooting – hiring snipers to attract deer to fixed locations and shoot them – is the . 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 or requiring residents to buy-in to be effective.

The plan also calls for a communication and public outreach effort to educate residents about dealing with deer.

Donald R. Thompson November 09, 2011 at 04:07 PM
Intelligent voters win again!!!
John November 10, 2011 at 06:02 AM
Is it intelligent to ignore cost effective non-lethal methods, to spend a million dollars to kill deer while bordering communities population can wander into the city for us to take care of? Million dollar killing programs are not a standard city service. If culling is so "intelligent" why isn't everyone doing it?
Jay November 10, 2011 at 02:41 PM
Cross bow hunting is barbaric. Leave it to Bill Russo to whole heartedly support such a cruel practise. Hopefully his love of cruelty to innocent animals will be remember come next election.
Jay November 10, 2011 at 03:01 PM
Wrong, only the unintelligent would vote to slaughter innocent animals. I'm sure you and good old kill happy Russo will enjoy watching the deer be murdered though. People like you seem to get great satisfaction out of watching painful death take place. Shucks, the way you're going, it won't be long before you yes people and kill happy Russo, will vote for culling those pesky humans too.
James Thomas November 26, 2011 at 04:41 PM
DRT, Common Ground. Jay, you need to look up Ted Nugent's philosophy on deer and chill out.
Donald R. Thompson November 26, 2011 at 04:58 PM
Jay, why not just be honest about your belief, that to you all hunting is barbaric. The fact is Bow hunting whether it cross or compound or even recurve actually provides for quicker kills when the hunter is skilled and ethical. Broadhead expandable arrow heads are just as quick and humane as a sniper shot from a rifle. All meat comes from once alive, cute, and furry animals, in every case they have to be killed so the great majority of us can enjoy them. The animal that is in the wild and killed is far more "free" than the penned up cattle or caged chickens etc. . If you're against any and all meat consumption you are in the overwhelming minority . Don't they give the deer meat from the program to feed the less fortunate amongst us??

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