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Finding locations that are safe, have ease of access and have multiple deer visiting is critical to the success of the culling program. Once a site has been selected it is important not to overuse it, as the deer learn to avoid it. Over the last three years it has become more difficult to locate sites on public lands. The majority of City property is within a park or along a trail, with significant pedestrian and vehicular traffic. Even in areas that are wooded and not in a park, there are people walking dogs, biking and cross country skiing. As the number of viable public locations for culling has decreased, more residents have requested culling on their own property.
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Trained marksmen under the direction of the Shaker Heights Police Department conduct sharpshooting on public lands and on private property when allowed by property owners and where deer can be harvested safely and humanely. The marksmen receive additional training in the Cleveland Metroparks to simulate the environment in which they will be working. “Do Not Enter – Deer Management Area” signs where deer management operations occur and radio contact with SHPD officers on patrol prevent citizens from wandering into the operational area. In the event of an unauthorized entry into the area, no shots are fired and individuals are asked to leave. Culled deer are transported to a processor for dressing and preparation for donation to a local food bank.
Based on information obtained by resident questionnaires and observations by SHPD officers and the City’s deer culling contractor, there is an overabundance of deer in our city. Suburban areas, especially Shaker Heights, provide high-quality, high calorie and easily accessible foods in the form of gardens, ornamental plantings, and fertilized lawns, while nearby woodlands offer daytime refuge. The richness of plant species is higher in residential areas than in wooded habitats. Suburban areas are free of hunting and natural predation. Deer have a high reproductive potential and populations increase quickly.
Since 2016 a majority of Shaker residents who have responded to an annual questionnaire indicate that they have concerns about deer in Shaker and that they would like to see a decrease in the number of deer.
A deer herd that lacks natural predators will increase by 20 to 40% yearly, unless regular culling resumes. To better understand the factors that contribute to the unbalance in the deer’s environment, see Cleveland Metroparks’ Deer Management webpage: https://www.clevelandmetroparks.com/about/conservation/natural-resources/current-issues/deer-management.
Unpalatable landscape plantings and deer repellants are unreliable and short-term strategies. Deer are likely to ignore either the taste or odor repellents in times of food scarcity and overpopulation. Some repellents lose their effectiveness in rain and require reapplication and others do not weather well even in the absence of rainfall. Long-term approaches are needed to maintain deer populations at levels that are healthy for both deer and humans.
Reproductive agents for wildlife are not commercially available, are currently classified as experimental and are produced by research facilities. Also, the free-ranging nature of deer makes it difficult to deliver contraceptives to them. Relocation of deer is not allowed by ODNR. This technique requires the use of traps and/or remote chemical immobilization techniques and has been demonstrated to be impractical, stressful to the deer and may result in a high post-release mortality rate of up to 85%. These programs also require release sites that are capable of receiving deer.
Culling on private property is the same as culling on public property. The property is baited and cameras are set up near the bait sites. Trained sharpshooters perform the culling. Please see the FAQ What is the City’s deer culling program? for additional details.
Precision Wildlife Management, the City’s contractor, will conduct a site assessment at the prospective property to ensure it is safe and appropriate for culling. If the site is deemed acceptable, Precision Wildlife Management will meet with the property owner to explain the program and address concerns. The property owner will also be required to provide written permission for culling on their property. Precision Wildlife Management will also contact neighbors directly next to or to the rear of the property. Everyone will be given the option of being notified when culling will take place.
If any neighbor directly next to or to the rear of the private property to be used for culling objects to the culling, no culling will take place on that property.
The City’s Wildlife Task Force (formerly the Deer Task Force), which includes Council members and residents, has approved specific protocols for sharpshooting deer on private property.
The deer meat is donated to Cleveland-area food banks.
The Eastside Wildlife Management Partnership, comprising the cities of Beachwood, Cleveland Heights, Lyndhurst, Mayfield Heights, Pepper Pike, Shaker Heights, South Euclid, and University Heights was formed in 2013 to ascertain whether collaborative action could be undertaken to address deer management in the region. After becoming educated about deer management by several experts, including the Cleveland Metroparks, some cities in this group decided to initiate deer management programs on their own (Pepper Pike and Lyndhurst) while others made no decision regarding deer culling. Currently, Shaker’s Mayor and City Council members continue to talk with their peers in other cities about a joint deer management program.
Yes, dogs must be on leashes, and the leash must be held by the person at all times at Horseshoe Lake, Lower Lake and Southerly Parks. Outside these parks, dogs are required to be on leashes or under the control of their owners at all times so as not to create a nuisance. (Section 705.02 C.O.)
Up to two dogs per home/dwelling unit are permitted. (Section 705.10 C.O.)
Ohio law, as well as local ordinance requires owners of dogs to renew their dog license each year between December 1st and January 31st. Residents may purchase a license from Cuyahoga County.