In the early 1900s there were very few whitetail deer within the State of Ohio. Beginning in 1930 deer migrated back into our area and began to repopulate. In 1970, the herd was estimated at 17,000 and the Ohio Division of Wildlife was actively managing the herd numbers through hunting regulations. In the past thirty years the deer population has exploded and is now estimated at 750,000 animals statewide. Approximately 250,000 animals are harvested each year during the state hunting season and another 25,000 to 30,000 are involved in reported deer vehicle accidents. Each area of the State has its own unique challenges in dealing with these numbers and Amberley Village is no different.
Amberley Village is located in central Hamilton County, and is comprised of 3.5 square miles or approximately 2240 acres. Amberley is has 403 acres of green space which include French Park, a City of Cincinnati public park of 257 acres and Amberley Green, which is an undeveloped Village-owned property of 133 acres.
Amberley Village first implemented a Deer Management Program in 2007. This program was deemed necessary due to an increasing white-tailed deer herd, resulting in an increase in deer vehicle accidents (DVA). In addition, the Village was receiving numerous complaints relating to property damage from deer activity. An aerial survey by helicopter conducted in 2008 indicated 115 deer within the Village borders. At that time, Amberley Village Council implemented the initial Deer Management Program consisting of culling by sharpshooters in designated areas of Amberley Green and French Park. During the winter of 2007, 46 deer were removed by sharpshooters. In 2008, eight deer were removed. In 2009, 67 deer were removed, in 2010, 34 deer were removed and in 2011 30 deer were removed. In 2012, 24 deer were culled. [Exh. A] The purpose of this plan is to put forth a program that will maintain the deer population at a level which is acceptable from a safety and nuisance perspective as well as to ensure a healthy deer herd and continued sustainability of other wildlife and plants in Amberley Village.
In the spring and summer of 2012, the Health, Education, & Welfare Committee of Amberley Village Council conducted four informational meetings to assess and address the impact of the White Tail deer presence in Amberley Village. Information was collected from the Cincinnati Park Board, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and Wildlife, The City of Wyoming, and the Amberley Village Police. Interested residents attended all meetings and also provided input. [Exhs. B,C,D,E]. The Cincinnati Park Board instructed committee members on the impact of deer on the ecosystem. Amberley takes pride in its green spaces and parks and excess deer feeding will negatively impact the balance of the ecosystem by eliminating food sources for animals that forage in the undergrowth of the forest. [Exh. B]. The ODNR stressed the responsibility of government to balance both the cultural and environmental impact of having an ever growing deer herd. Amberley Village is an upscale, wooded suburb where many residents’ homes are situated on large lots. Homeowners take pride in their homes and landscapes and are discouraged by the impact of deer both eating the landscape plantings as well as causing other damage to the homes themselves. [B,C]. Both the Cincinnati Parks and the ODNR suggest a recommended number of deer per square mile as being between 10-15 deer. Accordingly, Amberley Village, being 3.5 square miles, can support a deer population of approximately 37- 52 deer before meadowlands, plantings, undergrowth, and other wildlife begin to show signs of stress.
Although the growing trend in municipalities is to allow restricted bow-hunting within jurisdictional boarders, it was the opinion of Amberley’s Police Chief that this method would not be appropriate for Amberley due to issues of safety and personnel. [Exh. E]
PUBLIC INFORMATION AND EDUCATION
The management of a deer herd is a highly sensitive issue. The Village must emphasize the positive benefits of a stable, managed herd, while openly communicating the action plan and goals. Local newspapers and the Village website will be effective tools in this effort.
MONITORING ACTIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Any management plan requires monitoring. Monitoring provides essential information about the baseline (where we are presently and whether we have made positive progress towards our goals). The results of this process will help us identify where problems still exist and allow us to focus our efforts in those areas. Monitoring will be accomplished by:
1. Deer Vehicle Accidents – Amberley Village Police will continue to monitor the number of reported and unreported DVAs occurring within Amberley Village, and will monitor reports of injured deer and deer carcasses collected in the Village.
2. Citizen Complaints – Residential complaints received by the Village will be entered into a database to be utilized in monitoring progress of selected control methods and providing guidance in recommending modifications. Complaints of deer damage or traffic related issues can be made directly to the Administration office or by utilizing the Deer Damage Report on the Village’s website. This information will be provided to Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife personnel.
3. Periodic Deer Count – In the past, Amberley Village has engaged in a deer count by utilizing a helicopter fly-over and a visual deer count. Information gathered by representatives of both the Cincinnati Parks as well as the Ohio Department of Wildlife has suggested that this method is the least accurate of deer-count methodology and provides an inaccurate picture of the number of deer in the Village at any given time. A more accurate method utilizes a flyover by airplane equipped with thermal imaging technology to provide a snapshot of the number of deer within the Village. This method results in a count with over 90% accuracy. [Eh. B] The Amberley Village Police Dept. and the Village Manager, at the requiest of Council, will establish a relationship with the Cincinnati Park Board in order to participate in their annual deer count of the Cincinnati Parks, in order to include French Park in the thermal image count. The deer coubt will occur at least every third year, beginning in 2013.
4. Harvested Animal Inventory – If required by the Ohio Division of Natural Resources, pertinent data such as sex of deer, age (estimated), and weight should be logged on each animal harvested or removed by other means. Date, time and location will also be included.
5. Public Opinion Surveys – It will be beneficial to annually conduct public surveys regarding landscape, garden, and crop damage in addition to other citizen concerns. Village Administration will establish a form for residents to access online in order to self-report property damage, injured deer sightings, and unreported DVAs. Additionally, the Health, Education, and Welfare committee will survey residents by any available online survey in order to gauge resident feedback regarding deer management.
6. All collected data will be periodically reviewed by the Health, Education, & Welfare committee, but not less than once per calendar year, commencing in September 2013. Any changes or amendments to the Amberley Deer Ordinance can be made and brought before Council’s regularly scheduled October meeting if necessary.
Deer management is often undertaken to satisfy diverse needs and interests while solving conflicts. No single technique or strategy is universally acceptable or appropriate. The complexity of suburban deer issues and limitations of available techniques requires an integrated program. Many options are available for control and reduction, with specific advantages and disadvantages. Some are acceptable for more rural areas while some are unsuitable, from a safety standpoint, for a more urban setting. Amberley Village has explored and discussed the pros and cons of all of these methods:
1. Habitat Modification – Deer adapt well to nearly all human-modified environments, except for downtown urban locations. Amberley’s deer do not discriminate between suburban landscapes and natural park growth.
2. Ban on Deer Feeding – Supplemental feed can enhance reproductive rates, transmission of disease and encourage deer to concentrate in specific areas and make deer more tolerant of people. Feeding may also contribute to an artificially high deer population, especially during harsh winters. Regulations may reduce the number of people who feed deer, but these types of regulations are difficult to enforce unless a concerted effort is made. Amberley has an ordinance prohibiting feeding of deer on public lands but there are no plans to prohibit feeding of wild animals on private property.
3. Unpalatable Landscape Plantings – Deer are selective feeders; they forage on plants or plant parts with considerable discrimination. Costly browsing damage may be reduced or eliminated by planting less-preferred species or by establishing susceptible plants only in areas protected from deer. Under most circumstances, landscaping based on knowledge of deer feeding preferences can provide an alternative to the use of expensive chemical repellents and physical barriers. Whether or not a particular plant species will be eaten by deer depends on the deer’s previous experience, nutritional needs, plant palatability, seasonal factors, weather conditions, and the availability of alternative foods.
The homeowner is cautioned that the deer-browsing resistance of any plant species may change due to fluctuation in deer populations, alternative food availability, and environmental factors. No plant species will be avoided by deer under all conditions.
The Ohio Division of Wildlife will process deer damage control permits to applicants experiencing a high rate of deer vehicle accidents resulting in significant safety issues. Permits may also be granted in reducing numbers based on property damage to landscapes, ornamental shrubbery and gardens. In past years, these permits have been used successfully in Amberley Village’s culling effort to minimize problems in those areas.
Sharp Shooting – The use of trained personnel to remove deer through sharp shooting has been successful. Using a variety of techniques maximizes safety, humaneness, discretion and efficiency. It can be a costly solution. These activities would take place on Amberley Green and French Park. Notification will be posted at the parks and the Amberley Village Police Department will be utilized to secure the site when being used. This method had been employed successfully from 2007-2012. Exhibit A provides a summary of those efforts. All animals which have been removed by this method have been processed and the meat donated to local food banks according to Ohio law. This practice will be continued. The Amberley Village police will cull up to 50 deer per calendar year without additional permission by Village Council. If the Chief determines that there is a dramatic increase in the number of deer in the Village, by tri-annual deer count, or by increased DVAs, then the Chief may request that the HEW committee review the Ordinance and temporarily increase the number by vote of Council.