10 deer killed last week in Mill Creek’s deer reduction program
YOUNGSTOWN — An additional 10 deer were killed last week as part of the controlled hunting program in Mill Creek MetroParks. The program involves bow hunting in various MetroParks parks across the county.
The 10 deer taken Nov. 12 to Nov. 18 brings the number of deer harvested from Oct. 1 through Saturday to 133, said Nick Derico, natural resources manager for the Mill Creek MetroParks. Thirty more deer were killed by U.S. Department of Agriculture-employed sharpshooters in mid-October at the Mill Creek Golf Course.
Derico said Monday it took time to arrive at the 133 figure after a Vindicator reporter’s questions resulted in Derico and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources reviewing the number of deer harvested through bow hunting and correcting several errors.
For instance, the data Derico forwarded to the Vindicator from the ODNR for last week contained reports of four deer killed that should not have been on the list, Derico said. The four were reported as having been killed with firearms, prompting The Vindicator to ask where those deer were killed and when gun hunts had begun.
After Derico and ODNR checked into it, he said they were “confident” that the four reported deer harvests were erroneously reported by the hunters during the check-in process. Derico said hunting permits for the MetroParks now are “archery only.”
He said the “accuracy of harvest reporting relies heavily on the individual hunter filling out the information correctly. Each week, there is follow-up with the hunters from myself and ODNR to clear up any mistakes.”
He said the firearm hunting permits issued for the MetroParks begin Dec. 3 and will take place every other weekend through the end of January. During those hunts, the parks involved will be closed to the public. Hitchcock Woods and Huntington Woods in Boardman will remain archery-only hunts even after Dec 3, he said. Those parks will continue to have week-long archery permits continuing through the end of January.
Derico also reported Monday that that the report a week ago of 33 deer being harvested the previous week through bow hunting was 10 deer too high because of a typographical error.
The number of deer killed in week 5 was 10 instead of 11, Derico said. The hunter mistakenly indicated his deer was part of a controlled hunt, but it was not, Derico said.
Meanwhile, Derico said Monday he has asked the ODNR for permission to have sharpshooters remove 20 additional deer in the same area as last time — north of U.S. Route 224 in Boardman and south of Midlothian Boulevard. His request was dated Oct. 14.
In his request, he noted that sharpshooters removed 30 deer in 2 1/2 to 3 hours Oct. 11 the first time sharpshooters were used — at the Mill Creek Golf Course. He said the golf course is only “a portion of the project area” that was approved for sharpshooter deer removal the last time.
He said all of the deer were antlerless. The sharpshooters “passed” on shooting any antlered deer that night. As the sharpshooters were finishing their work, “several groups of deer were filtering back onto the golf course,” he stated.
“Since the time of our first operation, I have utilized trail cameras and staff observations to gauge the number of deer that are still utilizing the area, particular surrounding the golf course,” Derico stated. He documented 22 bucks in the the area “and numerous pictures of antlerless deer (the largest group in one picture was five), all utilizing the golf course from Oct. 17 to 30.”
He wrote that he had personally seen 20 antlerless deer and three antlered bucks “utilizing the course and/or the wooded areas adjacent to West Golf Drive” when he visited the golf course between 4:30 and 5 p.m. Nov. 13.
Derico said that based upon the outcome of the first night of operations, “the additional deer observed during our operations, and the data / observations indicating a large number of deer still utilizing the golf course in recent weeks I believe the request for an additional 20 deer damage permits is appropriate to help us move toward our deer management goals in the 2023-2024 management season.”
Geoff Westerfield, assistant wildlife manager for the ODNR Division of Wildlife, told The Vindicator Monday he has not decided yet whether to approve the MetroParks for sharpshooters to remove any additional deer this year. If he does approve the reduction of more deer, he will “suggest the park district replace the copy of the permit on their website with the modified permit,” he stated.
The deer removal program has been opposed by the Save the Deer of Mill Creek Park organization. Four people who live near the parks also sued the MetroParks in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court, asking that Magistrate Nicole Alexander find that the park district used a flawed method of counting the number of deer in its deer-reduction plan.
She denied a request for a preliminary injunction to stop the deer reduction program, but the lawsuit is ongoing. The plaintiffs have asked Alexander’s boss, Judge Anthony Donofrio, to reverse Alexander’s decision and more recently asked the court to grant summary judgment in their favor. Summary judgment is a ruling in a case without need of a trial.