Toledo officials move to stop Metroparks deer cull – Toledo Blade



The Hicks-Hudson administration plans to take “whatever steps it deems necessary” to stop a Metroparks of the Toledo Area plan to kill white-tailed deer in Swan Creek Preserve Metropark because the cull would violate city law prohibiting hunting and discharging a firearm.





The Metroparks plans to kill as many as 200 white-tailed deer during the next three months in the park, which is within in the city limits, as well as Oak Openings Preserve. The agency said the cull is part of its ongoing effort to reduce ecological damage tied to an overabundance of deer in those protected areas.





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A buck runs through the woods last month at Swan Creek Metro Park in Toledo.


THE BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH

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The Ohio Division of Wildlife last week approved a request from the Metroparks of the Toledo Area for a deer damage-control permit valid through March 31.





City Law Director Adam Loukx, in a letter dated Tuesday to Metroparks attorney David Smigelski, said the planned cull with sharpshooters violates city law.





“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.





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 cull will occur.





Metroparks officials in September told Toledo councilmen of the plan to have sharpshooters kill deer in two parks, which followed controversial deer kills at Wildwood Preserve Metropark and Oak Openings Preserve Metropark earlier in 2016





Steve Madewell, then-Metroparks executive director, in September said deer kills would be conducted in Swan Creek Preserve Metropark in South Toledo and also in 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 its approval is not needed, was met with a barrage of criticism from several councilmen.





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 also said the kills should be prohibited based on city law.





Tim Schetter, the park district’s natural resources director, said the kills are considered legal population control of the animal, not hunting.





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. Mr. Schetter said 195 deer were killed at Oak Openings and Wildwood over four nights by two sharpshooters in each park.





The metroparks’ deer-management program included allowing bowhunters to remove deer from remote areas of the Oak Openings Corridor, which runs from Secor Metropark to the Oak Openings park. About 35 deer were killed by those bowhunters.





Contact Ignazio Messina at: imessina@theblade.com or 419-724-6171 or on Twitter @IgnazioMessina.




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