NORTH ROYALTON – The deer-feeding ban, that Ward 6 Councilman Dan Kasaris has been pushing for, has been removed from discussion, for now.
Ward 5 Councilman and safety committee’s chair Steve Muller, Ward 4 Councilman Paul Marnecheck and newly appointed Ward 3 Councilman Dan Langshaw, who both serve on the committee, all agreed in favor of removing it, especially after hearing that in the past year, only 14 nuisance complaints have been received in a community with a population of 30,000.
Muller and Langshaw felt the city should give the mayor and safety director’s educational campaign, as well as the nuisance feeding ban passed last year, a chance to take full effect before passing yet another law, especially one that is admittedly difficult to enforce.
“I supported moving the issue from the agenda. The safety director and council all agreed that this is a really good educational program. If anything, let’s give it a chance. Education is a good start, and at the end of the day, the city is doing something. We are addressing the issue,” Langshaw said.
“We just passed a nuisance feeding ban just over year ago. I don’t think we’re really giving it enough time to see how it’s working in the community,” Muller added.
A resident was in attendance, John Kohl, and said he didn’t believe another law was needed either.
“If it’s not that prevalent, I don’t see why we would make a law,” he said. “I don’t think this will solve the problem.”
“My thing is I don’t like to make any law we can’t enforce,” he said. “I think what we passed last year after a lot of discussion, at least gives people some sense of what they should and should not be doing.”
The deer population, and its impact on the number of motor vehicle related accidents and residents landscaping, have been talked about since late last summer, and council and the community is hopelessly split on the issue. Most would agree that it is a problem, but everyone disagrees on how to solve it.
Some have said live and let live, others believe in culling, others believe motorists need to be better equipped with information so when they are behind the wheel, they can hopefully steer clear of a deer collision.
Culling has been denounced as too costly and an unpopular choice.
Bow hunting deer on rural properties as a means to control the population was introduced as an alternative to rifle culling by Kasaris late last year, but it never hit the mark with other councilmen.
Bow hunting was dropped in February, and Mayor Bob Stefanik announced the city would be heavily pushing the educational campaign, focusing on driving tips and information to keep motorists safer from not just deer-related accidents but all accidents. That program will be toted at public events such as the upcoming safety fair and home days.
About a year ago, council did pass a nuisance feeding ban which Muller referred to. It prohibits residents from feeding deer, when it becomes a nuisance or a safety concern for neighbors.
Feeding bans are extremely difficult to enforce because neighbors usually don’t like to sign a formal complaint against a fellow neighbor. In most cases, a police officer has to catch a violator in the act, which simply doesn’t happen.
“There were 14 (nuisance feeding) complaints, but no citations were issued because the officer didn’t observe it. When they offer a resident the opportunity to sign a complaint, they back off because they don’t want to take it that far with their neighbor,” he said. “It’s just very difficult to enforce, but it is a tool to have.”
The hope is that the threat of a possible citation might squelch the urge to feed the wildlife. The animal control department has been educating residents about the cons of feeding deer in their daily encounters with residents in the field. Feedings are discouraged because it pulls deer from their normal feeding patterns, and in a city the size of Royalton, those deer are often crossing streets to seek out those treats.
Muller also said that instituting a full-blown ban to include all animals, except birds, could simply cause more problems between humans.
“My concern is that (Safety Director) Bruce (Campbell) only got back 14 complaints. If we make it stricter, I think it will only increase neighbors quarreling with their neighbors,” he said.
Debates are over for now, but Muller said the deer population isn’t going anywhere, so the subject will likely arise again. He hears complaints from residents too but not necessarily for safety reasons.
“I believe this will come up again, and it probably won’t be too far out into the future. A lot of the major frustration I hear about is that deer are overtaking residents’ properties. Residents put a lot of time, effort and money in to their landscaping, and it is frustrating to see it get eaten away. It’s difficult. Would feeding stop that? It’s hard to say,” he said.
Kasaris, outnumbered on the feeding ban, believes his colleagues are making a grave mistake. He said education alone just isn’t enough to combat the problem.
“We had more than 120 people placed at risk that we know of last year on our roads, when the vehicle they were in collided with a deer. What do we tell those people?” Kasaris said. “Safety is about prevention and doing what one can to prevent injury and property damage. I have done all I could do and have a clear conscience, and know I have done all I could do. Others will not be able to say that when a serious accident occurs or someone dies. I will be able to look the victim in the eye…others won’t be able to do such.”