Johnstown administrators are looking into drawing a bead on the deer population next year, as they consider a request to allow bow-hunting within village limits.
Johnstown Village Manager Jim Lenner was clear that this is only a consideration and that bow-hunting currently is not allowed within Johnstown, nor has he received many complaints about deer.
"We will look into this, but it won't be done for this deer season," Lenner said.
He said a resident had asked council during its Nov. 6 meeting to allow bow-hunting within village limits. He said the resident provided examples of deer population-control programs in Newark, Granville, Pataskala and New Albany.
"We discussed the idea of bow-hunting (Nov. 13) at the committee meeting," he said. "Through discussion with council, staff and residents at the meeting, it was decided staff would review the other communities' programs, as well as contact the communities to determine the pros and cons of their individual programs.
Council will hold a meeting to discuss this idea after staff has done its due diligence, Lenner said.
"As of today, bow-hunting is still prohibited in the village," Lenner said.
Such a program has had success in Granville.
"Nobody complains; some people tolerate it; and some don't want any killed," Granville Clerk of Council Mollie Prasher said.
"Granville's deer population-control project is in its sixth year," she said.
Last year, bow-hunters killed 120 deer, which is about average, she said, adding that Granville's program has been quite successful. Prasher said bow-hunters are hunting on 160 village properties.
"Those residents are ecstatic," she said.
Prasher said the village's deer had lost any fear of humans and had become threatening to residents. Currently, the program only includes deer control, but as the local coyote population rises, the program eventually could include them, as well.
According to Granville's website, its deer management program includes public education to inform residents about what could be done to make the village habitat less attractive for deer, to reduce the damage to landscaping and other plantings and to minimize the deer's other negative impacts.
The deer management program also authorizes bow-hunting in selective areas to reduce the size of the herd. The village controls and regulates the bow-hunting program, which is designed to be unobtrusive.
Private property owners must authorize the hunting, and the village selects the hunters based on specific qualifications, including total years of hunting experience, prior urban deer hunting participation and/or a law-enforcement background. Hunters are expected to follow all Ohio hunting regulations, as well as regulations established by the village.
Prasher said the hunting occurs only during bow season unless a specific permit is obtained.
Johnstown Mayor Sean Staneart said he was surprised bow-hunting wasn't approved fairly quickly.
"I got from council a lot of mixed reactions," he said. "Some residents raised concerns."
He said enough people questioned the whole idea of hunting within the village and raised safety issues that village officials decided to conduct more research before approving anything -- "if it even gets enough momentum to move forward," Staneart said.