The Village's Services and Environment Committee agreed at its April meeting to recommend council authorize another deer cull this winter, suggesting a target number of 45 deer be taken. The Village's first cull last winter took 30 deer from the Village.
The committee settled on the number after hearing the report from Ricky Becker, who, at the request of the Village, used a drone equipped with a thermal imaging camera to count the number of deer in Ottawa Hills on a day this February. According to Becker, he was able to count 74 deer in the Village, 36 west of Talmadge Road, and 38 to the east of it.
The count mirrors numbers from January 2015, when an aerial survey counted 75 deer in the Village.
According to Becker, in addition to the 38 deer he counted in the eastern portion of the Village, he also saw 11 more on the train tracks immediately adjacent to the southern border of the Village near Canterbury Court and Edgevale Road.
According to Village Administrator Marc Thompson, a population of around 30 deer is what the Village would like to see.
"Our purpose is to reduce the population, not provide hunting opportunities," Thompson told the committee.
Thompson also told the committee in 2016 the Ottawa Hills police department responded to 18 reports of dead or injured deer in the Village. These were animals which appeared to have been struck by a car, or were injured when jumping over a fence. None of the 18 were injured or killed as part of the cull.
Between the cull and dead or injured deer reports, the Village deer herd decreased by 48 in 2016.
Committee chairman and councilman Jeff Gibbs said those figures helped justify taking more during a cull this winter.
"If you look at [Becker's] count, factor in the dead deer reports and our hunt, we are just treading water," Gibbs said.
The committee also authorized Thompson and OHPD chief John Wenzlick to make tweaks to the cull program as needed, specifically allowing hunters to take up to four deer, with the third being a buck, if they so chose. During last year's cull, hunters were only allowed to take up to two deer, and they had to be antlerless.