Powell folks fed up with deer, but solutions elusive
When Jennifer Sweet first moved to Powell with her family, they saw an occasional deer in the yard, munching on plants in the garden.
"It was no big deal," Sweet said.
Now Sweet said those deer sightings have multiplied. She said she frequently sees groups of nine or 10 deer in her yard year-round.
Her garden is in ruins, and the grass in her side yard has been trampled flat. Sweet said her neighbors in the Bartholo-mew Run subdivision, just southeast of downtown Powell, face the same problems.
Many of them have hit deer with their cars, and her husband recently had a close call, Sweet said.
Sweet addressed Powell City Council at its March 5 meeting to ask if there's anything the city can do about the local deer population.
She said she's concerned not only for her landscaping, but also for the safety of her 4-year-old daughter, who plays in the back yard.
"They're not afraid of humans anymore," Sweet said of the deer. "If this is something that's unchecked, I see it getting worse and worse."
But council members said there's not much the city can do; Powell has no animal control officers or game wardens who could address the issue.
Moreover, it's just not feasible to try to control the deer population in a region with so much undeveloped land, City Manager Steve Lutz said.
"The problem is much bigger than Powell," he said. "Unless we put a big wall around the city, they're going to continue to come."
Lutz said the city investigated animal-control strategies several years ago when a resident expressed concern about coyote sightings.
Officials determined it's not practical to work toward controlling the overall population, but the city passed an ordinance permitting individual residents to hire licensed animal-control companies to discourage animals from entering a property.
Lutz said residents could put up a fence, though city code prohibits fences higher than 5 feet, which can easily be cleared by deer.
Residents can request a variance from the city to build a taller fence, he said.
Ohio Wildlife Center Public Relations Manager Bryane Roberts said any fence shorter than 8 feet tall may not keep deer out, though it will act as a deterrent.
She said residents upset about the animals encroaching on their property should avoid planting a deer's favorite types of vegetation. They are particularly attracted to flowers, fruit, acorns and clovers, she said.
Motion-sensitive lights or sprinklers also can be an effective deterrent, Roberts said. So could keeping a dog.
"They prefer to keep away from people, loud noises and bright lights," she said.
Roberts said intentionally feeding deer is a mistake. That habituates them to approaching humans, she said.
As for the overall deer population, state wildlife officer Justus Nethero said hunting is the only realistic way to limit the number of deer roaming Powell.
"The best, fastest, easiest way to reduce the number of deer is to allow hunting pressure," Nethero said.
That's unlikely to happen, he said. Powell bans the use of projectile weapons within city limits.
"They're not afraid of humans anymore.
If this is something that's unchecked, I see it getting worse and worse."
-- JENNIFER SWEET