City fights Metroparks over planned deer kill (PART 3 of 3)
The Metroparks of the Toledo Area and the Hicks-Hudson administration are locking antlers over a plan to kill deer.
City Law Director Adam Loukx, in a letter to the park district’s lawyer, said the city could take “whatever steps it deems necessary” to stop a Metroparks plan to kill white-tailed deer in Swan Creek Preserve Metropark because the cull would violate city law prohibiting hunting and discharging a firearm.
“Because the city of Toledo does not share your belief that the Metroparks are immune or otherwise exempt from the city’s laws, the city may take whatever steps it deems necessary to enforce its code should such enforcement become necessary,” Mr. Loukx said.
The letter didn’t specify what these steps may be and Mr. Loukx did not return calls seeking clarification.
Police Chief George Kral and Chief Prosecutor David Toska were copied on the letter.
Metroparks spokesman Scott Carpenter said he expects the dispute to be resolved and the kill to proceed.
“Metroparks is a local jurisdiction working with a federal agency under a permit from a state agency to manage wildlife in the best interest of our community and our parks,” Mr. Carpenter said. “Culling is a best practice used by every large, urban park district in Ohio to deal with the problem of too many deer. This problem poses a serious threat to the sustainability of natural areas and all of the plants and animals that rely on them, including deer.”
The Metroparks plans to kill as many as 50 white-tailed deer over the next three months in the park, which is within the city limits. The agency plans to kill 200 total in the park and Oak Openings Preserve. It said the kill is part of its ongoing effort to reduce ecological damage tied to an overabundance of deer in those protected areas.
The park district said a 2016 infrared survey of the deer population at Swan Creek indicated 121 deer in the preserve, or 51 deer per square mile, which is more than double the ideal capacity for the habitat.
The Ohio Division of Wildlife last week approved a request from the Metroparks for a deer damage-control permit valid through March 31.
Sharpshooters from the U.S. Department of Agriculture are expected to begin killing deer in the two preserves in the near future, possibly as soon as this week. Citing safety concerns, Metroparks officials do not publicize the exact dates the kill will occur.
Toledo councilmen blasted the idea last year.
Metroparks officials in September told council of its plan to have sharpshooters kill deer in two parks. The park district had previously conducted controversial deer kills at Wildwood Preserve Metropark and Oak Openings Preserve Metropark in 2016
Steve Madewell, who was then-Metroparks executive director, said in September that deer kills would be conducted in Swan Creek Preserve Metropark in South Toledo and also Middlegrounds Metropark, an urban recreation preserve on 28 acres along the Maumee River near downtown Toledo.
The announcement, which was done as a courtesy to council because the park officials said city approval was not needed, was met with a barrage of criticism from several councilmen against the plan.
Councilman Rob Ludeman said he opposed the idea, in part because the presence of deer at Swan Creek attracts people to the park. Mr. Ludeman said the kills should be prohibited based on city law and viewed the permit as an attack on home rule.
A contract with the federal Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, allowed for marksmen to remove up to 200 deer from the two Metroparks between Jan. 1 and March 31, 2016. Two sharpshooters at Oak Openings and two at Wildwood killed 195 deer.
The Metroparks’ deer-management program included bowhunters removing deer from remote areas of the Oak Openings Corridor, which runs from Secor Metropark to Oak Openings park. Bowhunters killed about 35 deer.
Originally posted by The Blade, IGNAZIO MESSINA | BLADE STAFF WRITER
January 5, 2017
Contact Ignazio Messina at: email@example.com or 419-724-6171 or on Twitter @IgnazioMessina.