A Toledo Metroparks’ representative continues to defend a controversial culling program, designed to control the deer population in the area, which was carried out last winter.
The cull, which took place between January 6 and February 8, saw a total of 195 deer killed by sharpshooters at Wildwood and Oak Openings Preserve. It was the latest effort of a larger program designed to control the damage done to the natural areas caused by an overpopulation of white-tailed deer.
"As the agency charged with caring for these natural areas, it is our responsibility to maintain them according to best management practices," said Scott Carpenter, director of public relations for Metroparks of the Toledo Area. "The continuing trend of too many deer jeopardizes the sustainability of our parks."
Communicating with the public
Carpenter noted how Metroparks staff has used a variety of methods to document the damage that burgeoning number of deer in the area have caused. The agency had already employed controlled bow hunting before choosing to carry out a cull.
Despite the Metroparks' insistence on the need for population control, concerned citizens continue to express misgivings at the euthanization of the deer. Carpenter said he believes the Metroparks have taken every step to keep the public informed on the issue.
"For three years we have been talking about the need to actively control the number of deer in our parks," Carpenter said. "Every local TV station has reported on it multiple times, and there were two front-page articles in The Blade that we initiated. For four years, we have asked people about deer management in public surveys."
Differentiating the situation in Ottawa Hills
Deer population control has been hotly debated in the Village of Ottawa Hills as well, where in November, a similarly controversial measure to authorize controlled deer hunting was passed. The Ottawa Hills council is tentatively scheduled to set a date for the hunt in June, but the plan continues to draw ire over whether it is needed at all. According to a February 9 story in The Blade, a January 23 head count revealed only 36 deer in the village, roughly half as many as in previous years.
Carpenter was quick to differentiate the Metroparks' policies from the proposed actions of Ottawa Hills. "Some people have equated the two situations, but they are not the same. The issues in Ottawa Hills are safety and property damage. In the Metroparks it’s about biological carrying capacity and the sustainability of our natural areas," he said.
"Having fewer deer will have immense benefits for deer and all of the other living things that our parks support. Our deer management decisions are based on the health of the natural area. Deer and people are only two of thousands of plant and animal species that rely on the Metroparks for their survival."
For more information on the Metroparks’ deer management program, visit metroparkstoledo.com/discover/blog/posts/deer-management-program/