Clintonville Spotlight

Oh deer — Residents seek help to manage booming wildlife population

Human interaction with a growing number of deer in Clintonville neighborhoods is increasing, according to the accounts of residents at a June 13 meeting with representatives of the Ohio Division of Wildlife, part of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

More than 200 residents filled a room at Gethsemane Lutheran Church to share their experiences and ask questions.

During a meeting that stretched more than two hours, residents occasionally challenged each other and levied blame, citing that the feeding of deer contributes to their continuing presence and acclimation to human contact.

“We hear from Clintonville very regularly, as well as Worthington and Gahanna,” said Gary Comer Jr., wildlife management supervisor for the Ohio Division of Wildlife.

But the Division of Wildlife is tasked only with “regulatory oversight” and offering “technical assistance” in executing management plans that Ohio municipalities adopt.

“It is a long process, and it doesn’t happen the next day,” Comer said about forging a management plan to control the population of deer in urban settings.

For residents of Clintonville, it would require action by Columbus City Council to adopt a management plan on which the Ohio Division of Wildlife could act, said Brad Kiger, a wildlife officer with the Ohio Division of Wildlife.

Comer said compromise is the key to creating a management plan.

“Finding that compromise can be hard because there are two extremes, those who say do not hurt one, and others who say kill them all. A successful management plan has to be in the middle,” Comer said.

Examples of such differences of opinion were evident at the meeting by residents who told of their practice of placing salt licks in their yards for deer to enjoy, vs. others who scolded “don’t humanize them.”

Other residents merely sought advice on how to build fences to keep deer out of yards or how to prevent deer from damaging gardens and landscaping.

Comer also used the meeting as an opportunity to explain the biology and behavior of deer to residents.

There are no predator threats to deer in the Clintonville area and there is adequate food and shelter, so it is likely the deer and future offspring would remain unless a management plan were to be enacted, he said.

Those could come in myriad forms, Comer said, such as permitting the hunting of deer with bow-and-arrow even in city limits, as some other Ohio municipalities have permitted, or prohibiting feeding of deer, Comer said.

“There is no biological need to feed deer. People do it to view the wildlife,” he said.

In neighboring Worthington, City Council enacted an ordinance effective July 1 of last year that prohibits feeding deer.

Clintonville residents said they have explored such measures but have not been successful.

B.J. White, who represents District 9 of the Clintonville Area Commission, said she has solicited the office of Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther to address the issue of the deer population in Clintonville.

White said the commission is considering a resolution asking that Columbus create a management plan for Clintonville.

The effort is not solely about the environment or managing the deer population, White said after the meeting.

“(The issue) is driving a wedge between neighbors,” White said.

There were no representatives from the city of Columbus at the June 13 meeting.

The origin of the June 13 meeting began with Clintonville resident Vince Mazeira, who, with others, hand-delivered about 200 fliers in their neighborhoods. The message then spread via social media and emails, Mazeira said.

“There are varying views and some conflict, too. I wanted to have ODNR come talk to us,” he said.

Clintonville resident Tony Collinger said deer have nearly struck his grandchildren in his back yard and another resident, who would not provide her name, recounted a person who pursued a deer onto her property after shooting it with a bow-and-arrow.

Baylee Fischer, a Clintonville resident who lives on Meadowlark Lane, said after the meeting the overpopulation of deer is evident.

“It does not take a wildlife biologist to recognize this. Something needs to be done to control the population or we will continue to see car accidents and damage to properties including plants and trees,” Fischer said.

It is not unusual to see a small herd of deer wandering through Colonial Hills, munching on residents’ flowers. One early afternoon toward the end of June, in broad daylight, a pair of deer were walking along the curb lawn on the south side of Dublin-Granville Road west of High Street, oblivious to the many cars buzzing past.

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