In 2013, the City of Mentor implemented a Deer Management program to address problems in our community caused by deer overpopulation. Mentor Officials were hoping to lessen the number of deer related vehicle accidents, maintain undergrowth in our woodlands, minimize damage to private property, and improve the overall health of the City’s deer herd by reducing herd size.
Due to a lack of natural predators, the deer population had outgrown its food supply. The herd devastated saplings, wildflowers and other under-story plants in the Mentor Lagoons Nature Preserve, Mentor Marsh, and other parks, as well as private property.
Due to the lack of food, deer in our area were underweight and disease prone. Birds and smaller forest animals were affected as well since they also relied on the plants as a food source and habitat.
The City instituted a program which included urban bow-hunting and culling to manage the deer population. Four years after implementation, flora and fauna have rebounded dramatically. Visit the Mentor Lagoons Nature Preserve and you’ll see that native plants and tree saplings are returning to the forest floor.
According to City of Mentor Naturalist Nick Mikash, it’s a great sign that the program has been successful.
“We are seeing recovery of many understory plant species and we hope to see continued recovery of more sensitive wildflowers,” says Mikash, “All of these are important for wildlife and improving biodiversity in our preserve.”
Deer/vehicle accidents have been greatly reduced as well through a combination of population management and implementation of Deer Deter units placed along historically high incident corridors, which the City purchased through a grant from the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT). Accidents caused by deer have been reduced by approximately 50% over the past five years.
Another positive outcome of the program is that 38,654 pounds of venison have been donated to food banks to feed the hungry in our area.
Deer management requires sensitivity to maintain balance, but results are evident and encouraging. We are helping to promote a healthier herd and protecting our forested areas to ensure their future.