By GLORIA PLEVA KACIK
Mayor Bob Stefanik has taken his quest to help alleviate the deer population problem on the road. He and four other area mayors traveled down to Columbus on Friday, January 9, for a meeting with Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) officials. The message they wanted to convey is that the deer belong to the state and the problems that the deer have created are the state’s responsibility. The ever increasing population of deer caused and ever increasing amount of damage to vegetation and increased motor vehicle collisions every year, as well as other safety issues. Stefanik and Independence Mayor Gregory Kurtz, Parma Mayor Timothy DeGeeter, Broadview Heights Mayor Sam Alai, and Seven Hills Mayor Rich Dell’Aquilla met with ODNR Director James Zehringer, Deputy Director Tim Biggam and other ODNR officials. The meeting was set up after a request through the Cuyahoga County Mayors and Managers Association. Each Mayor addressed the ODNR about the deer problems, specific to their cities.
Earlier this fall, Stefanik introduced legislation, unanimously adopted by the North Royalton City Council that requests the ODNR to control deer populations in Cuyahoga County. That resolution followed discussion that took place between local area Mayors and Managers over the past year that was initiated by Stefanik, in the hopes that leaders from other northeast Ohio communities would join him in sending a message down state. He has referenced the Ohio Revised Code 1531.02, an Ohio law, which states that the ownership of all the wild animals who reside here belongs to the state of Ohio. The resolution was not only adopted in North Royalton, but surrounding communities, such as Seven Hills and Broadview Heights have also adopted similar legislation. The city of Parma has introduced the same. Ultimately, Stefanik said that he hopes that “the state will recognize that it is their responsibility and step up to the plate and take action.” He said that he would like to see the state institute some sort of birth control program for the deer population.
Stefanik said that ODNR will be looking at the difference between urban and rural counties in general and the situation in Cuyahoga County specifically. “Actually, it went better than I thought it would,” said Stefanik. “We made progress. I think that they are sympathetic to our cause. It’s our job to convince them that this problem is as big as we say it is.” He said that the ODNR officials have requested that the cities send them their ordinances that are currently in effect, for them to review. A meeting is set to be scheduled here in February.