With a recent count of 74 deer in Ottawa Hills this past February, Village council in May decided to authorize a cull of up to 60 deer later this year.
Councilman Jeff Gibbs, chairman of the Services and Environment Committee, told council an aerial survey of the Village in February, done using a drone with a thermal camera, revealed 74 deer within Ottawa Hills. He said the committee was recommending a cull this fall, with the goal to take 45 deer.
The Village's first-ever deer cull was during last year's bow hunting season. The Village authorized approved hunters to take up to 30 deer during the cull. The number was met and the cull halted Jan. 6. Gibbs also reported the police department responded to 18 dead deer complaints in 2016. A majority of those animals were injured or killed after being struck by a car or when trying to jump a fence.
Mayor Kevin Gilmore questioned the proposed number of 45, noting between the cull and dead deer calls, "we lost 48 deer, and the count shows we have 74 right now."
"Does are going to be dropping their fawns soon, so that number will go up," Gibbs admitted. "We could have more than 100 deer by fall."
"We took 30 and it didn't even make a dent," Councilman Rex Decker said. Councilman John Lewis said the message he is getting from residents is to do another cull, and take more.
"The complaints we are getting are running five to one to take more," Lewis said.
Unlike past counts, where the deer were heavily concentrated in the half of the Village west of Talmadge Road, this time the deer were nearly equally divided between the western and eastern portions of the Village. The count revealed bigger concentrations of deer in more densely populated neighborhoods.
Village Clerk-Treasurer Eric Shreve lives in one of those more densely populated neighborhoods. His home is on Emkay Drive, between West Bancroft Street and Hillandale Road, and he agreed with the findings from February's count.
"I have more deer feces in my back yard than dog feces. I can't plant anything," Shreve said.
Officials have been told the "ideal" population of deer in the Village would be around 15 per square mile, which translates to just under 30 deer in the Village.
The cull will be during Ohio's deer archery season, which will be Sept. 30 to Feb. 4. The bag limit - the number of deer that a single hunter may take - for Lucas County is four. The Ohio Wildlife Council sets bag limits for every county in the state every April. The statewide bag limit is six. Only one of the deer may be antlered.
Considering the number of deer in the eastern portion of the Village, Gibbs asked Village Solicitor Sarah McHugh to look into possible guidelines to allow for hunts on private lands, with the land owner's permission.
In other business, Councilman Lewis, the chairman of the Finance Committee, reported income tax collections were running slightly ahead of projections, but behind the record-setting pace of last year. In 2016, Ottawa Hills collected over $3.7 million in income taxes, which far exceeded anticipated receipts of $3.2 million. For 2017 the Village budgeted for $3.3 million in income tax revenues.
"We are looking good. Expenses continue to track under budget, but do not expect a $500,000 surplus [of income tax monies] again," Lewis said.
Another mild winter last year means the Village has a surplus of road salt, so much so there is no need to purchase salt for winter 2017-18, according to Village Administrator Marc Thompson.
"This past winter we didn't even use up the salt from 2014-15," Thompson said. "We (still) have a commitment for 785 tons, and we normally use around 700" in a season.