Wednesday, February 06, 2008

OHIO NEWS: Gahanna Culling Operation Enters 15th Year

Gahanna residents harvested 29 deer in Gahanna parks from Sept. 29, 2007, to Feb. 3 and 26 deer on private property as part of the city's Urban Deer Hunting program.

"This is our 15th year," police Chief Dennis Murphy said. "This is the first year that we used private property."

For the first time, the Gahanna Police Department opened the program to private landowners, hoping to help reduce the deer population. Murphy said six property owners participated in this year's program. Twelve landowners volunteered, he said.

Murphy said the police department meets each hunter interested in participating in the program. Every hunter must attend at least one orientation meeting with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the city's animal warden and parks and recreation representatives to be allowed to participate in the program, he said.

This year, Murphy arranged a meeting between the hunters and the private property owners to ensure a good match for the program.

"There were no problems this year," he said.

Property owners interested in participating may have been rejected for a variety of reasons, Murphy said, adding that the city couldn't accept property in the middle of a neighborhood. Those property owners helped identify areas of concern, though.

Murphy said the number of deer-auto collisions and property-damage reports were indicative of a deer-population problem.

One area the police department was unable to access was Columbus Academy property. Murphy said deer often flee from nearby city parks and take refuge there. Numerous accidents have occurred on Cherry Bottom, Morse and Hamilton roads because of deer, he said.

Murphy said although Columbus Academy officials have expressed safety concerns, safety need not be a concern. Hunters use arrows that are shot a short distance to thin the herds, he said.

Columbus Academy headmaster John Mackenzie said the school can't allow hunting because no one is permitted to have weapons on campus.

"We have students here every day of the year - even Saturday and Sunday," he said. "Parents would be concerned if they saw hunting going on, on campus."

Mandy Frint, who heads up the city's Urban Deer Hunting program, said numerous safety precautions are taken, especially for private property. She said 200 people had expressed interest in hunting, but only 50 actually participated.

Murphy said hunters are required to follow hunting rules established by ODNR. Hunting may occur from a half hour before sunrise to a half hour after sunset.

Private landowners supported the idea of having hunters on private property, but they wanted more deer harvested, Murphy said.

"We were very successful this year - our first year," Frint said.

Frint said that by opening the property to private land, the number of deer taken has doubled. She said hunters were a lot more eager to participate in the program, too.

Gahanna landowner Mike Murray participated in the program this year. He, a brother and a nephew are all hunters.

Murray said he was tired of watching deer destroy his apple and peach trees and his blackberries, raspberries and strawberries.

"The deer go in and tear things up," he said. "I would like to see more deer taken. For me they are long legged rats."

Murphy said officials realized last year that a change needed to be made in the program when numbers weren't as high as hoped.

Frint said the city in 2007 had 69 auto accidents caused by deer; most were non-injury to the driver or passenger. In 2006, 79 deer-car collisions were reported, and bow hunters killed only 19 deer.

Although city leaders are looking for large parcels of privately owned land for the hunting program, three contiguous neighbors may volunteer for the program.

"We don't want one neighbor adamant against it," Murphy said.

Murphy said the program also serves as a crime deterrent, Murphy said. Sometimes hunters observe a crime in progress and contact the police department.

An informational meeting will be held on the last Wednesday in August. Interested hunters and landowners should check the city's Web site at www.gahanna.gov for more information.

Source: http://www.thisweeknews.com/?sec=home&story=sites/twn/content/pool/exclusives/2008/february/020508-GHN-News-Deer.html&tab=tab1

1 comment:

Real estate jim said...

As a resident of Gahanna, I take pride in being able to tell people I have a family of seven deer that makes itself home on--or near the boudaries--of my third-of-an acre property. And yet, I know that, in spite of their entrancing beauty, they can also be incredible pests. In summer, they devour my flowers and perrenials with gusto!