Sunday, November 13, 2016

Cuyahoga County pace-setting Ohio's deer harvest numbers - and why

Urban Cuyahoga County continues to buck the trend and up until the last weekly harvest report had become the one of Ohio’s 88 counties to consistently record steady gains in the number of deer reportedly killed by hunters each week.

Though Cuyahoga County’s deer hunters have seen increases in the numbers of animals taken over the past several years, the to-date tally for the 2016-2017 season has proven itself an eye-opener.
Through the first six reporting periods Cuyahoga County was the only one to record harvest gains when stacked up against their respective near-mirror to-date kill figures. That changed with the November 8th report when Cuyahoga County was joined by Fayette County which showed a to-date kill of 81 deer; up from its equivalent November 10, 2015 kill of 77 deer.

And the wake-up call in no small measure is being attributed to no fewer than six additional Cuyahoga County communities now allowing the taking of deer by state licensed and respective municipally permitted archery hunters. Even more remarkable is that last November voters in each of these communities overwhelming approved allowing carefully controlled archery deer hunting.

Cuyahoga County’s newbies at allowing controlled archery deer hunting include Broadview Heights, Strongsville, Seven Hills, Parma, Parma Heights, and North Royalton.

Just how good can Cuyahoga County’s efforts become? Pretty impressive it would seem as both the weekly to-date deer kill figures highlight and state wildlife biologists testify.

“I do believe that as a whole and when the deer hunting season is over, we’ll see that Cuyahoga County will have a harvest in excess of one thousand animals,” says Jeff Westerfield, the Ohio Division of Wildlife District Three (Northeast Ohio) wildlife management supervisor.

“In North Royalton alone there were 24 deer taken during just the opening weekend. That’s impressive,” Westerfield said.

Indeed, for the archery season’s first four days Cuyahoga County registered a then-to-date kill of 79 animals. That’s more than for such traditionally thought-of deer-hunting focal points as Adams County (72); Athens County (71); Hocking County (62); Morgan County (55); and Tuscarawas County (77).

Presently, says Westerfield also, 54.2 percent of Cuyahoga County has some form of lethal control of deer and which includes culling by sharpshooters. Even so, 39 percent of the county is open to some form of regulated sport hunting, almost exclusively with archery tackle.

What the statistics allude to as well, says Westerfield, is that archery deer hunting has come of age as a deer management tool and strategy; something that wildlife biologists can point to as a workable concept for other communities – and their impacted property owners - weighing it as an option.

Westerfield says too he would not be startled at all if the pace of Cuyahoga County’s deer harvest/kill quickens the deeper into the season the hunting goes. The possible reason for this acceleration is that early on some (or many) hunters may have their long-standing haunts they wish to visit before exploiting the possibilities out their back doors, Westerfield says.

Regardless, for every plus a downside is possible. Where once it was thrilling just see a deer in a park the idea of a buck rubbing its antlers against an expensive ornament tree trunk or seeing a doe chow down on equally treasured landscaping is helping to despoil the white-tail’s “awe, isn’t it cute” former reputation.

“Just like it was for geese which are now being called ‘rats with wings,’ the attitude toward lethal management of deer has changed dramatically,” Westerfield says. “The sad part is that resources like geese and deer may be viewed as being of lesser value than they were before.”
- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

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