Thinning the herd

A deer ballot initiative is expected early next year at the latest.

NORTH ROYALTON – Voters can more than likely expect to see some sort of initiative on the ballot early next year, at the latest, pertaining to deer management.

Mayor Bob Stefanik, who has been spearheading this movement working with area mayors and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, announced a few weeks ago that local mayors have banded together to work on short-term and long-term goals, including non-lethal methods, with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

He formally announced in a press release June 30 that those short-term goals will become a detailed, joint proposal that will be presented this year to participating municipalities’ city councils. Each individual council is then responsible for deciding whether or not to place it on the ballot for a vote of the people.

“This will lead to a ballot initiative to institute these short-term goals,” he said. “We will be putting together a joint, legislative plan for the communities that each city will present to their city councils with the goal of putting it on the ballot for the voters to have the final say next year.”

He said all methods of deer control will be up for discussion.

“Any and every option will be on the table for discussion,” Stefanik said. “Throughout the summer and into September, we will be working closely with our neighboring communities and the ODNR in creating a successful and viable plan to address this growing concern.”

North Royalton is taking the lead and is flanked by Broadview Heights, Olmsted Falls, Parma, Parma Heights, Seven Hills and Strongsville, the goal being strength in numbers. Stefanik has said numerous times that it would be pointless for just one community to institute a plan while others do nothing.

“Unfortunately, the deer population doesn’t recognize municipal borders. We must provide our communities with an option that will address this issue once and for all,” he said.

The mayors, Stefanik said, will continue to cooperate with and encourage the ODNR to investigate and establish long-range, non-lethal deer management plans. A meeting is scheduled with the ODNR on July 8.

Deer management is not a new issue.

Residents have repeatedly voiced their concerns over the years expressing that deer have not only become a nuisance in their gardens and landscaping but also a safety hazard on the road.

As of yet, culling has not garnered much support. Debates to allow bow hunting never had enough support on council in North Royalton.

A ballot issue in neighboring Broadview Heights was rejected by voters a few years ago.

Stefanik hopes a regional, structured approach in the short term combined with long-term, constructive dialogue with the ODNR regarding opportunities will be much more appealing to voters this time around, voters who are fed up with deer and the safety hazard they pose.

“The situation has grown worse every year,” he said. “We must develop a sensible, workable plan that takes into consideration not only the devastation of our public and private property but also the safety concerns due to deer vehicle accidents and the general well-being of the deer.”

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