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MetroParks: Ongoing arguments ‘perplexing’

States in newest filing that deer supporters keep repeating selves

YOUNGSTOWN — The Mill Creek MetroParks says in its newest filing in the lawsuit filed by four property owners asking Mahoning County Common Pleas Court to stop the MetroParks deer reduction plan that the property owners continue to make the “same perplexing argument.”

Monday’s filing cites the rulings by Judge Anthony Donofrio and his magistrate, Nicole Alexander, against stopping the reduction plan and says the four property owners continued the same argument in a Nov. 7 request for summary judgment.

The summary judgment filing argued the judge and magistrate should find that the MetroParks “lacks the explicit legal authority” to carry out its deer reduction plan and “does not possess any legal authority to invite others into the public park … to eradicate deer either.”

Summary judgment is a ruling by a judge for one party against another party without need for a trial.

The MetroParks filing says the property owners are making “the same perplexing argument” in the most recent filing as when the judge and magistrate ruled against them earlier. “This argument lacks merit” because multiple parts of Ohio law grant the MetroParks that authority, the filing states.

The MetroParks then quotes a section of Ohio law stating that “the chief of the Division of Wildlife has the ‘authority and control in all matters pertaining to the protection, preservation, propagation, possessing and management of the wild animals’ including regulatory power.’ ”

It notes that “(c)ountless other park districts have deer management plans such as this one in place to prevent damage to the parks due to the overpopulation of the deer. To allege that none of these parks have the authority to do so or that Mill Creek in particular does not share that same authority defies logic.”

It argues that the four property owners also “have no legally protected interest in Mill Creek’s deer management program, and as such they do not have standing to oppose the program.”

The filing cited the testimony of Nick Derico, MetroParks natural resources manger at the Sept. 28 hearing at the courthouse. “As testified to by … Derico … there has been clear damage to the ecosystem, which is a direct result of deer overpopulation,” the filing states.

The MetroParks states that the same arguments being made now for summary judgment were denied in Donofrio’s ruling supporting Alexander’s decision to refuse to grand a preliminary injunction to stop the deer reduction program.

Instead of granting summary judgment in favor of the four property owners, Donofrio and his magistrate should grant summary judgment to the MetroParks “on all of the (property owners’) claims” and dismiss the lawsuit the property owners filed, the MetroParks filing states.

The filing from the property owners argued that a section of Ohio law governing the authority of park districts “does not grant authority to kill, hunt, eradicate or exterminate the natural life in the park. Instead, (the park district) is directed to ‘preserve’ the (park system’s) natural life.”

It states that the park district is resting its authority to reduce the deer population on authority granted to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, but Ohio law does not give that authority to park districts.

“(S)ince (the MetroParks) does not possess any legal authority to invite hunters into the public parks and has no authority to kill the park’s wildlife, the (Mill Creek MetroParks) also cannot argue that the ODNR’s authority to manage deer is somehow transferrable to” the MetroParks, the property owner’s most recent filing states.

There are no hearings presently scheduled in the case.

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