Suburban developments have long been home to whitetail deer, but a growing deer population has pushed deer out of the woods and into backyards in Avon Lake, Ohio.

The Avon Lake Council is looking into a deer hunting recommendation that would permit bowhunting whitetail deer (with an estimated population of 225 to 250 deer) in designated parts of the city. However, this isn’t sitting well with the city’s 4th Ward councilman David Kos, reports the Chronicle-Telegram.

Kos was “stunned” at some of the areas deemed sufficient for hunting grounds and says some areas “are no more than 100 feet from occupied structures.”

I’d have to agree that 100 feet from occupied structures is very close, however, these proposed areas are all of the options the city has to choose from for the deer hunting program. The areas would still have to be reviewed by the mayor, law director and police chief which means there’s probably a slim chance parcels like this would make it into the program as hunting grounds.

The bowhunting recommendation, put forth by the city’s Environmental Affairs Advisory Board, was developed after a yearlong study of the local deer population. Additionally, the Environmental Affairs Advisory Board also had talks with various organizations including the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, county Metro Parks and Cleveland’s Museum of Natural History among others. Public meetings will be held to review the proposal before it is accepted.

According to the proposal, bowhunting would be permissible in areas of the city with parcels of land that are a minimum of 5 acres in size. Any licensed hunter with permission from the property owner would be able to hunt deer within the city limits.

While there are 59 parcels that meet the 5-acre minimum on the western part of the town, it’s the more densely populated eastern part of town that is dealing with the majority of deer issues.

The initial plan has gathered support from some citizens, but there is also a group opposing the proposed bow hunting ordinance and has circulated an online petition that has gathered more than 200 signatures. The anti-hunting group argues that bowhunting is an ineffective way to control the population, but similar programs have proved otherwise.

In the suburbs of Westchester County just 30 minutes north of New York City there have been many successful deer management programs in local communities including Pound Ridge and on an expanding list of state parks including Muscoot Farm, Lasdon Park and Arboretum, Ward Pound Ridge Reservation and Mountain Lakes Park. The programs have been an extremely effective way for the county to manage the growing deer herd.

Hunters in the Westchester County Adaptive Deer Management Program are licensed and go through an extensive selection process by the County, which includes a proficiency test and mandatory orientation meeting. Upon acceptance into the program, hunters are required to invest at least 10 days hunting, shoot a doe before shooting any bucks, and check in and out by phone each day of hunting. The program has been beneficial to both bowhunters and the community as it provides additional hunting opportunities for bowhunters and allows the herd to be effectively managed.

The Avon Lake Council can learn from other successful deer management programs such as the Westchester County Adaptive Deer Management Program if they don’t give in to the anti-hunting community’s threats.

Managing suburban deer herds is a growing issue that many counties face and I hope that these new programs can learn from similar successful programs in other states.

Do you have a suburban deer management program in your area? Has it been successful?