|Deer on Covert Run. FTM file.|
by Robin Gee
Deer mating season is just beginning but reports of increased deer activity throughout our area highlights dangers to motorists, as well as both safety and nuisance concerns for residents.
Herman and Peggy Lauer of Capri Drive addressed Fort Thomas City Council at the September 5 meeting to request help with deer on their property. The couple counted 17 in their yard recently.
The current city ordinance, passed in 2007 and amended in 2011 and 2013, allows hunting with arrows on properties with at least three contiguous acres. The Lauers do not have the required acreage and have not been able to find neighbors along the deer path who will allow hunting.
|Need a local chiropractor? Click here. This is an advertisement.|
"They are just not scared of people. They just go charging through the yards, you could get run over by them," said Lauer. "They won’t move in your driveway and they seem to be eating everything, even things they never touched before."
Recently, she said, one deer almost bit her grandson. She has seen bucks fighting in the yard and is afraid to go outside when deer are around.
Ordinance results unclear
The city of Fort Thomas has had a deer ordinance in place since 2007 and amended it in 2011 and again in 2013 to expand the times discharge of arrows would be allowed. The ordinance, which also prohibits feeding of deer, has yielded mixed results.
The most recent aerial count, conducted by Vision Air Research in 2013, indicated there were 96 deer in the area, down from 205 in 2010. Ninety-six deer factors out to about 15 per square mile, a density considered manageable by Kentucky Fish and Wildlife standards.
Councilman Roger Peterman said that he's skeptical of those results and the way the data was collected.
He noted that the number of deer-related vehicle accidents has not decreased. There were 22 such accidents in 2016, down from 27 in 2013 but still 69 percent higher than the number reported in 2010.
RELATED: Fort Thomas Deer Accidents
The question remains, if controlled hunting does not cull the herd enough, what is the answer?
A different approach?Councilmember Ken Bowman pointed to alternatives. "I know there’s been some success across the river with a sterilization program. The numbers are going down; it’s proving to work. We haven’t gone there but maybe we should."
A deer sterilization pilot program in Cincinnati’s Clifton neighborhood is in it’s second year of field operations. After residents there objected to bow-hunting in three area parks, the Cincinnati Park Board approved a research study and pilot program with permission from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
So far, the program, which is funded through grants and private donations, has shown promise. The deer population in the area has decreased by 16 percent according to the program’s second-year report. The program had sterilized and tagged 51 female deer as of January 2017.
When this option was discussed five years ago, expense was a concern.
"It could be revenue neutral, at no cost to the city if we can find citizens and vets who are willing to step up," said Bowman. "We haven’t had that conversation but it is my hope that we will."
City Administrator Ron Dill said the deer problem has been a topic of concern and conversation across the area. Fort Thomas will host a city managers group meeting in October. Kentucky Fish and Wildlife will be there, and urban deer management is high on the agenda for discussion, he said.
All agreed that one thing residents can do right now is to refrain from feeding the deer. Lauer noted that she's seen neighbors do this. The Fort Thomas ordinance prohibits feeding and imposes a fine of $100 for the first violation, $250 for the second and $500 for the third.