Mentor using SWAT team to control exploding deer population

MENTOR, Ohio - When deer populations explode, some towns hire private deer control operations. But starting this week, one northeast Ohio city is calling in the SWAT team.

Mentor officials said there are 33 deer per square mile in the city. Ten to 15 is a better ratio for deer to remain healthy and not destroy the food supply.

Deer devour landscape in parks and backyards. But more concerning, Mentor is number one in northeast Ohio for car vs. deer crashes.

"Mentor has been one of the highest areas in the state of Ohio over the last several years for car deer accidents," said Mentor Police Chief Kevin Knight.

Trying to thin the herd, Mentor has been allowing bow hunting on private properties with more than 5 acres.

This week, Mentor started using the police department's SWAT team to harvest deer. Now, police sharpshooters will use rifles from tree stands to harvest deer,

Police close the park they're working in and take numerous safety steps. Knight said when SWAT team snipers are finished in several area parks, he expects the number of car-deer accidents to drop a lot.

"We have established shootings lanes for the snipers who can only shoot in those areas," Knight said.

Mentor resident Dan Welker said bow hunting is inhumane because some deer wind up wounded then suffer in the woods

"So those deer they go off to end up with infections and other problems and die somewhere else," Welker said.

Welker said he believes officials should focus their concerns on people driving while talking or texting on cell phones and drunk drivers, who he said are more dangerous than deer.  

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