Hunting deer in Avon Lake has added benefit for community, mayor says

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AVON LAKE, Ohio-- It is an unpleasant task. And at anywhere from $300-$500 per deer it can also be expensive.

But Avon Lake officials said the deer population around town, especially in city-owned areas like Walker Road Park, the waste water treatment plant, and Weiss Field has reached a critical point.

“Four years ago, we had 32 deer picked up along the side of the road by our service department," Avon Lake Mayor Greg Zilka said. “The next year it was 48; the next year it was 89 and last year it was 105, and this year we're in the 80-range we’re expecting to pick up about 90 deer by the end of the year.”

Mayor Zilka said as the number of deer have grown so have incidents involving people.

A deer attacked and injured a woman after her dog got into a fight with the deer in the woman's backyard. Three homes were damaged by deer jumping into windows. And on average, 20 to 30 people report collisions with deer on area roads.

The mayor said sending in sharpshooters is the best answer.

“We feel very comfortable that we have a safe program and one that's going to be successful," Zilka said. He told Fox 8 that the city looked at many different ways to control the deer population-- from trapping the animals to trying to use birth control.

He said hunting should prove to be the most effective and most humane method. Hunting also has an added benefit for the community besides limiting deer-human interactions.

Last hunting season, Avon Lake's trial deer hunting program took down about 40 deer.

They were able to donate about 685 pounds of ground venison to the Second Harvest Food Bank in Lorain.

The meat was ground and put in 1-pound packages and distributed throughout Lorain County.

That's 685 families who got a pound of meat each to help them get through difficult times.

“Fifty percent of the people we serve are seniors and children and they're the ones that are sometimes, heath-wise, are the most vulnerable, so a low-fat, high-protein option like venison, perfect," Second Harvest spokeswoman Susan Bartosch said.

If conditions are right, the sharpshooters will take to the woods around Avon Lake sometime next week and will continue through hunting season.

The meat from all of the deer culled will be donated to Second Harvest.

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