NORTH RIDGEVILLE — Many love “Bambi,” but the real-life deer that wreak havoc in their flowerbeds and gardens — not so much.
This is why City Council will consider legislation in the near future that would make it illegal to feed deer within city limits.
Pesky deer trampling through gardens and flower beds is a problem not limited to any one community, but the issue may be more serious in a 25-square-mile city with a lot of open land peppered with some massive housing developments.
“Frankly, we’ve got a severe deer issue here,” Mayor David Gillock said. “Most cities do, but it’s reaching a point where we need to do something about it. I love to look at them but they can cause accidents.”
Councilman Robert Olesen, R-4th Ward, has asked Law Director Andrew Crites to draw up an ordinance that will likely make its way onto Council’s agenda in February.
“More than half the calls I’ve gotten in the last six months have been about this kind of thing,” Olesen said. “People complain about deer digging mudholes in wet ground and eating all the plants. They’re running to places where they get fed. I had one person who videotaped 47 deer coming out of Sandy Ridge (the city’s Metro Parks reservation).”
Specifics of the ordinance are being drafted, but the proposed legislation would make feeding deer a misdemeanor offense punishable by a fine.
“That’s all you can do is assess fines,” Olesen said.
Residents would likely be given warnings first, and then be fined if they were found to be feeding deer again.
Olesen has personal experience to support his contention that the city is seeing increasing numbers of deer.
“In the space of the past 15 months, my wife has hit two deer on Sugar Ridge Road,” he said.
Police Chief Michael Freeman agreed a local deer-feeding ban makes sense but readily acknowledged the issue is a sensitive one.
“We want to find that fine line,” Freeman said. “We’re not proposing what happened in Elyria. We want to use common sense. We’re not looking to squash people’s enjoyment of animals. We’re just trying to curtail (deer feeding) so people can enjoy their property equally.”
Elyria City Council created a furor last spring when a ban on feeding all wildlife within city limits drew a heated response. It was ultimately decided to table the proposal until more information could be gathered.
The North Ridgeville ordinance would only target deer.
“We’re not looking at squirrels or songbirds that come to elevated feeders,” Olesen said. “We just don’t want people to dump bags of corn in their yards.”
A Mills Road resident recently set out corn in a trough, which quickly attracted “deer by the droves,” according to Gillock. “If deer are wandering in the woods off Shady Drive who cares, but if they’re walking down the center of Mills Road, which carries a lot of traffic, it’s a problem.”
Freeman said the city’s humane officer spoke to the resident, who agreed to stop the practice.
The problem can be especially nettlesome in areas such as Mills Creek or Waterbury Place where homes are fairly close together.
“If someone has 20 acres and is feeding deer, that’s different, but if you’re feeding a large number of deer in Mills Creek or other areas, it isn’t healthy,” Freeman said.
Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-1746 or firstname.lastname@example.org.