SOLON, Ohio - Deer need not fear sharpshooters in Solon for now. One of the few cities in northeast Ohio that contracted for culling has suspended the practice for at least this year.
Mayor Susan Drucker said a tighter budget and the need to examine how often culling is necessary are the major reasons council halted the program.
But the thinning of deer herds continues. Park districts in Cuyahoga and Summit still use sharpshooters and a number of municipalities allow residents to bow hunt in-season.
Culling is expensive. Solon spent $782,925 over the past five years. The city paid for the shooters, meat processing, and police overtime
The program, hotly contested by animal-rights activists and residents concerned with safety, was started in 2005 because of the high number of deer-vehicle accidents and complaints of yard damage.
The arguments in favor of culling are echoed in other communities where deer are multiplying.
Before hunting season last year, Ohio counted 650,000 deer, said Scott Peters of the Department of Wildlife, and 252,000 were harvested.
In 2008, deer-vehicle collisions numbered 25,000 statewide (459 of those in Cuyahoga County), and have dropped because of culling, Mr. Peters said.
In Solon, deer-vehicle collisions dipped to 54 last year from 161 in 2004, Ms. Drucker said, and the city's deer population as of September was 450 compared to 1,200 in 2005.
Cleveland Metroparks will spend $45,000 to thin herds with sharpshooters through February, spokesman Jane Christyson said.
A total of 343 deer will be taken in the Metroparks' Bedford, Bradley Woods, Brecksville, Mill Stream Run, North Chagrin, and Rocky River reservations, she said. The park district has tried to reduce its deer numbers for 11 years, but for a different reason.
Mr. Peters said more than 15 communities in Cuyahoga and Summit counties allow residents to bow hunt, which costs less than a formal management program because hunters pay the cost of permits and meat processing.
Twinsburg Mayor Katherine Procop said she has not heard any complaints about bow hunting in the city, which is regulated. Hunters must pass an archery proficiency test, hunt in an area 4 acres or larger, and get written permission from the landowner.
Broadview Heights will vote Feb. 16 on a measure to permit bow hunting starting next season. Bow hunting in Ohio ends Feb. 7.