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Toledo council may change law to allow deer kill

Metroparks’ proposal violates Toledo rule

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    A study found the deer population in Swan Creek Preserve Metropark is double the ideal capacity for the habitat.

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Toledo City Council reviewed legislation Tuesday that would allow the Metroparks of the Toledo Area to kill white-tailed deer in Swan Creek Preserve Metropark in South Toledo and Middlegrounds Metropark near downtown.

Metroparks officials and the Hicks-Hudson administration were at odds this month over the controversial planned deer kill. City Law Director Adam Loukx, in a letter to the park district’s lawyer, said the city could take “whatever steps it deems necessary” to stop a Metroparks plan to kill deer because the kill would violate city law prohibiting hunting and discharging a firearm.

Council President Steven Steel proposed changing city law to allow “lawful official discharge of firearms.”

The proposed law change states: “Such wildlife management or culling activities shall not be considered hunting under this code.”

Mr. Steel said the city law as it exists prohibits police officers from firing their weapons.

The Ohio Division of Wildlife approved the Metroparks’ request for a deer damage-control permit valid through March 31.

The Metroparks plans to kill as many as 50 white-tailed deer over the next three months in the park, which is within the city limits. The agency plans to kill 200 total in the park and Oak Openings Preserve. It said the kill is part of its ongoing effort to reduce ecological damage tied to an overabundance of deer in those protected areas.

The park district said a 2016 infrared survey of the deer population at Swan Creek showed 121 deer in the preserve, or 51 deer per square mile, which is more than double the ideal capacity for the habitat.

Metroparks spokesman Scott Carpenter previously said he expected the dispute to be resolved.

“Culling is a best practice used by every large, urban park district in Ohio to deal with the problem of too many deer,” he said in a statement this month. “This problem poses a serious threat to the sustainability of natural areas and all of the plants and animals that rely on them, including deer.”

Councilman Rob Ludeman said he would not support the change.

Mr. Ludeman questioned if the proposal went too far and would allow ODNR-sanctioned sharpshooting elsewhere.

Council could vote on the change next week.

Contact Ignazio Messina at: imessina@theblade.com or 419-724-6171 or on Twitter @IgnazioMessina.

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