Thursday, August 24, 2006

OHIO NEWS: Cleveland Suburb Continues Culling Program

Associated Press

SOLON, Ohio - This Cleveland suburb is again seeking ways to thin its deer population, after a sharpshooting program killed more than 1,000 the last two years.

The city's safety and public property committee recommended Wednesday that City Council put out bids for deer removal options.

Solon's contract with sharpshooter Tony DeNicola, president of Connecticut-based White Buffalo Inc., ended in the spring.

Dave Hromco, the assistant public works director who runs the deer program, wants it to continue. The city has about 20 deer per square mile, more than 400 total, and the target is 15 per square mile, he said.

The sharpshooting program cost taxpayers $520,000 in two years, according to a city-issued report. Another year of the program would cost between $110,000 and $130,000, Hromco said.

State wildlife officials have said Solon was the first suburb in the state to hire professional shooters to kill deer, a method used in some parks. The measure was a response to residents' complaints of deer destroying gardens and running through traffic.

There were 119 reported car accidents in Solon involving deer last year, a 26 percent drop from 2004, when the sharpshooting program began, police Chief Wayne Godzich said. But the program can't be called successful until the deer are counted again, he said.

Animal-rights activist opposed the program, calling for using other methods to reduce the deer population. Residents opposed to the killing set out food in their back yards, hoping to lure deer away from the sharpshooters.

Councilman Ed Kraus, who chairs the safety committee, said the city needs a long-term management program.

"It would be completely irresponsible for this body to do nothing and let the deer come back," he said.

Information from: The Plain Dealer,

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