ROSSFORD — With suggestions of a deer hunt being made, city council discussed an ordinance against feeding the deer at Monday’s meeting.
“We’ve had complaints. There are certain people in town who feed the deer and like them and there are other people in town who do not. We’re trying to find some resolution for that,” said Councilwoman Carolyn Zuchowski-Eckel, who is chair of the safety committee.
“We’ve got to find some compromise somewhere. The issue with the current ordinance is that we have people in town taking advantage of the wording and putting out a 50-pound bag of corn and saying it’s for the squirrels, because squirrels are not listed in the ordinance, but deer are.”
Councilman Bob Densic has received an increasing number of calls from homeowners with property and landscape damage. However, he said he considers the ordinance against feeding the deer as unenforceable without surveillance.
“I know there’s a deer issue. I’m a gardener, you have to take precautions. I have a fortress built around my garden,” Densic said.
“People can’t expect to have an open, unprotected garden and not have the deer eat it. Before we make any drastic changes I’m interested to find out that kind of information. You know, exactly what kind of damage is being done? Is it just deer eating your flowers? I know in some places they will eat shrubs and trees. I want to know the level of damage, before we make too drastic of a change.”
Densic has suggested “some sort of a deer cull.”
A hunt has been discussed several times in the past, but one has never happened.
“In the end, if you look at the size of Rossford and the locations where there are deer and the amount of wooded area, the deer aren’t as intrusive as some people might think,” Zuchowski-Eckel said. “Some people want an organized hunt in town. I think that’s dangerous. I’m not a fan of that.”
Both acknowledged the potential for public health and safety issues.
There was one vehicle accident in the city involving a deer last year.
Zuchowski-Eckel said it is harmful to feed the deer population, en mass, because it can increase the spread of the deer disease Chronic Wasting Disease.
Police Chief Todd Kitzler has suggested that council first discuss the current ordinance.
“He wants us to change it to make it enforceable,” Zuchowski-Eckel said.
The safety committee discussed ways to alter it to include not feeding any wildlife with the exception of bird feeders.
“What’s next, chipmunks? If someone is out feeding squirrels, are we really going to issue citations?” said Councilman Jerry Staczek.
The next step is a consultation with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources for guidance. In past discussions with the ODNR the city has been encouraged to collect data for a year, to determine the level of concern.
“We’re in a strongly wooded area,” Densic said. “I don’t know how we’re going to document this. It’s not widespread.”