MENTOR’S #DEER POPULATION: Part I THE PROBLEM

I came across this flower while on a Land Conservancy cleanup in Indian Point Park .  Karen Adair of the Nature Conservancy identified it as an invasive Summer Snowflake (Leucojum aestivum) and said I should pull it out.  It’s native to Europe, southwest Asia and northern Iran and had no business being in Ohio.

So I yanked out the plants.  It’s never pleasant to destroy something beautiful.  But that’s exactly what’s necessary when something beautiful destroys the natural habitat of other beauties of nature.

Through no fault of its own, this second example of beauty is also destroying the habitat of other beauties of nature.  Check out the photographs in my previous blogs, A Tale of Three Cities.

You’ll see how the deer have stripped the trees of the lower branches that certain birds need for nesting in Veterans Park and Mentor Marsh.  Wild flowers, seedlings and saplings have disappeared to the extent that in fifty years when the existing trees die, there’ll be nothing to replace them.  Our grandchildren will take a walk in what we call Veterans Park but what they’ll have to call Veterans Meadow.

According to Jeff Frishkorn’s recent article, Lyme disease is a growing risk in Northeast Ohio.  The disease is contracted from the deer tick.  Read the online comments by News-Herald readers who have the disease at http://www.news-herald.com/articles/2011/07/14/news/nh4183393.txt

While the aim is to extirpate the Summer Snowflake, no one’s talking about wiping out the White-tailed Deer.  We’re talking about reducing their numbers to allow all plants and other critters to thrive in their respective habitats.

The Cleveland Metroparks system has a wide diversity of plants and animals because they’ve been culling the deer population for almost 15 years.   Holden Arboretum, Geauga Parks District and cities like Kirtland, Waite Hill and  Kirtland Hills have followed Cleveland Metroparks’ example with good outcomes.

I love seeing deer and photographing them.  I’ve accustomed them to my presence so that when they hear my window click and crank open, they don’t run off.  They continue what they’re doing so I can photograph them.

But I wouldn’t mind seeing them half as often.

I favor reducing the deer population in Mentor.  It’s not because I don’t value deer.  It’s because I value the plants and animals whose habitat they’ve destroyed as much as I value the deer themselves.

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2 responses to “MENTOR’S #DEER POPULATION: Part I THE PROBLEM

  1. Deer, deer, deer, deer, deer!!!!!!!!!

  2. Well said Carol. In case any of your readers would like some more information, here’s a small post I put together about why Culling is the ONLY option:

    There really is only one logical way to go about this and flashing signs are certainly not it.

    There are 4 options:

    1.) Do nothing and just hope it isn’t you or a loved one that hits the next deer. Unacceptable, this is a non-option really.

    2.) Cull the herd. Yes, I know it sounds terrible to people that love the pretty deer, but you have to remember that ultimately this is the best option for many reasons.

    a.) It will make life better for the deer if there are less of them competing for the limited space and food that they share now.
    b.) Cost. To kill, butcher and process the meat costs around $150-$200 per deer. Compared to the options below, this is by FAR the most cost-effective option.
    c.) It will make everyone that travels in/through Mentor safer. 245 deer-related accidents in 2 years? Completely unacceptable. What will it take, someone being killed by a deer through the windshield? It’s irresponsible to let it get that far.

    3.) Capture and relocate. First, where would we take them, most ever community around here has the same problem because nobody will stand up and demand a culling. Second, it costs between $600-$800 per deer to do this. Far too costly. Lastly, Capture Myopathy is a condition resulting from constant tension on muscle contractions during restraint and handling, causing reduced blood flow to the affected muscles. This can lead to anaerobic muscular activity and build up of lactic acid within muscles, which can result in lactic acidosis and cellular death. A much more cruel way to die as opposed to being shot, no?

    4.) Sterilization. There are three ways to sterilize a deer, by pill, by a vaccine (usually used via a tranquilizer gun) or surgically. If you do it via pill, it has to be done continually. The vaccine often causes the female to go into repetitive estrous cycles, which can alter the behavior of both bucks and females. It also increases the number of late born fawns. It can also be difficult for scientists to tell which deer have been given the shot, and which deer haven’t. In addition, this method is also risky to humans if it is used in an urban setting. If a dart is lost in the immunocontraception process, someone could step on the dart and be given the vaccine. This method is extremely costly, ranging up to $1,000 per deer.
    Finally, via surgical methods, does anyone really see the viability of a field hospital with doctors performing sterilization surgery on hundreds of does? I’m not even going to bother calculating the cost on that one.

    The deer here are a serious problem and a burden that we do not have to bear if we’re smart about it.

    The most cost effective way is NOT silly flashing signs, it’s a culling, plain and simple. It’s also the best option for the remaining deer and will improve their lives. Plus, a lot of people would like to have vegetable gardens again, which is not easily done now unless you spend a small fortune on fencing and other deterrent methods.

    Enough already, cull the herd, feed the poor and let us not have to worry so much about hitting a deer or having one come through a window into our homes.

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