Friday, May 1, 2015

Fort Thomas Deer Hunt Report (2015)

In red, eligible plots of land for hunting within city limit. 

The city of Fort Thomas 2014/2015 Program Report on Archery in Fort Thomas was presented to city council at the last council meeting. Deer-related vehicle accidents, which according to the city is the main determining factor to gauge the effectiveness of the archery program, decreased from 27 in 2013 to 19 in 2014.

5 applications to combine lots were submitted and approved, allowing more land to be used for the deer hunt.

FTM reported the results of the 2013/2014 Deer Report last year. From that article:

Fort Thomas began crafting ordinances to deal with the increasing deer population in 2007. Since then council members have come and gone, revisions and nuances of the ordinance have been enacted and countless hours of debate have occurred.

Most recently in October of 2013, council amended the ordinance once again to allow the discharge of arrows from a half-hour before sunrise to 10:00 AM and to allow owners of contiguous lots cumulatively three acres in size to combine their lots.

The other metric the city uses to gauge the effectiveness of the archery program is the aerial deer census.
In February of 2013 the city paid Vision Air Research to conduct an aerial survey of deer population and found 96 deer in the city, which equates to around 15 deer per square mile. According to the report prepared by the city, they conducted “internet research” that showed maximum deer density can be up to 20 deer per square mile.

The city has also consulted with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife who has indicated the preferred density for deer is up to 15 per square mile.

Previously, Vision Air Research was contracted in 2011 and counted 132 deer and 2010 and counted 205 deer. The aerial surveys paid for by the city would indicate that the archery program is thinning the deer population in Fort Thomas, however the increase in deer-related vehicle crashes tells a different story.

Year    Accidents
2003    8
2004    12
2005    12
2006     13
2007    11
2008    19
2009    14
2010    13
2011    19
2012    20
2013    27
2014    19

The next time council can tap Vision Air Research to do another air census would be in 2016.

Another metric that was being used to test the effectiveness of the hunt was reported deer-kills by hunters. Fort Thomas stopped tracking the number of deer that were hunted in the archery program in 2011. Before then, hunters were asked to contact the city with the number and approximate location of the deer that was killed. In the four years (2008-2011) since enacting the program, 100 were reported to have been hunted within the city, including 42 in the first year of the program.

"Several years ago the city council eliminated language where we requested notification when a deer was removed from the city," said City Administrator, Don Martin. "The goal of the program is to improve public safety by attempting to reduce the number of deer-vehicle accidents.  Council determined that too much focus was previously placed on the number of deer removals voluntarily being called in to the city.  We no longer ask for this information."  

Also during the first year of the archery program, there were 4 violations of the program. Since the 2008/2009 program, the city has received only one complaint.

Memorial Parkway, again, led the way for most deer-related vehicle accidents, tallying 5 total.

From 2003-December 2014, here are the most frequent deer related accidents:
Memorial Pkwy   59 accidents
Route 8                24 accidents
Alexandria Pike   23 accidents
275                      13 accidents
N. Grand Ave      15 accidents
S. Grand Ave        9 accidents
471                        9 accidents
River Road            7 accidents
N. Fort Thomas     7 accidents
S. Fort Thomas      6 accidents
Highland Ave        3 accidents
Clover Ridge         2 accidents
Chesapeake Ave    2 accidents
Tower Hill Road   2 accidents
Budde Court, Military Parkway, Rossford Ave, E. Villa Place - 1 accident each

"We're down significantly from last year in car accidents caused by deer, but 19 is still a lot of accidents in Fort Thomas," said Fort Thomas City Councilman, John Muller. "The program seems safe and it seems to be working. We've made some adjustments in the program over the last few years as its evolved, so it's probably best to wait and monitor before we evaluate those changes."

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