Local Community Using SWAT Team to Cull Deer

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MENTOR, Ohio -- They are calling the SWAT team out in one local community, not because of crime but because of deer.

The over population of deer in the city of Mentor is becoming a bit of a nuisance.

"There is a lot of accidents right in front over here on Hopkins Rd. and on Plains Rd. and there is just an overabundance of deer in the area," says Lynn Simenc who works in Mentor.

So to help ease the trouble, Mentor has started a deer-culling program and they are using some of Mentor's finest to do the job.

"It was decided that we would use our SWAT snipers to do the culling," said Kevin Knight, Chief of Police for the city of Mentor.

Yes, Mentor is using their four SWAT team snipers to harvest deer. They are the first in Northeast Ohio to use police officers to do the job, giving new meaning to serve and protect.

"We are fully aware of their training, they are the highest trained people in our department, they train every month, they are employees and we have full control over them," said Knight.

Blackbrook Golf Course is one of four locations the Mentor SWAT Team will use to cull the deer; many believe it's a win-win situation for all involved.

"Deer culling, it just seemed kind of a cruel thing but understand that it is better for the environment to not have too many deer, better for the deer also," said Tim Ausperk, head golf pro at Blackbrook Golf Course.

Morton Park, the Lagoons, Blackbrook Golf Course and Veteran's Park are the four culling locations.  A Department of Natural Resource specialist from the city picked the locations, "With safety in mind, not with the idea of we can get the most deer in this spot but what is the safest area to do that in," Chief Knight said.

Mentor Police will close each culling location and do a sweep of the area before proceeding with the deer harvesting.

"It's very sad day, very, very sad," said Shelley Fleming who opposes the idea of culling.  "I think there is other ways that they could do this, one thing I was thinking just by doing some studying and research is why don't they drop sterilization pellets?"

The culling program has already begun at Morton Park.  It's a program that will save the city a significant amount money because they won't be paying an outside agency.  In addition, the city of Mentor allows citizens to bow hunt on private property to help with the culling process.