MENTOR, Ohio - First it was Solon, then Avon Lake and now the city of Mentor. That community is dealing with the controversial issue of controlling its deer population.
Deer crossing signs can be seen everywhere in Mentor. The severe overpopulation of deer has increased the rate of deer-car collisions which can be dangerous.
For this reason, the city is adding deer to the list of nuisance health hazards along with rats, raccoons and skunks by banning feeding of these animals. It's an emotional issue.
"I'm here to defend my right on my property to do what ever I wish," said Mentor resident Elaine Foster during the Tuesday city council meeting's public comment session.
"Feeding the deer is a something that is emotional for people, but at the end of the day, it's really very harmful," said Ray Kirchner, Mentor City Council vice president.
Most everyone agrees the loss of habitat is forcing the deer into neighborhoods. Mentor's woods are decimated and thin. There is no understory of saplings to replace the older trees when they die off. City officials say they want feeding to stop so they have a healthy herd for mentor's future
"They're really hurting these deer by doing that because your keeping them in that environment instead of having them in the environment they belong and that is in our parks," Kirchner said.
"They have no where to go and whether someone wants to feed the squirrels or if they want to feed the birds or whether they put out a little feed for the deer to help them through the winter, when there's a tough winter. I think that is a personal choice that people should be able to make for themselves. I don't think it is something the city should be dictating and assuming people are trying to do this to interfere with their culling program," said Mentor resident Dan Welker.
Bow hunters and police SWAT teams are already culling the herd as part of the city's comprehensive program.
The vote Tuesday night was five to two in favor of the ban. Violators would be guilty of a fourth-degree misdemeanor with a penalty of up to 30 days in jail or a $250 fine.