SWANTON – Swanton area residents filled a meeting room at the Swanton Township Hall on Wednesday to voice their displeasure over a deer cull at Oak Openings Preserve Metropark. While not everyone who got up to speak at the town hall meeting called by the township trustees was against the cull, the vast majority were.
Several in attendance questioned the deer numbers gathered by the Metroparks, and whether a cull was even necessary.
“It seems like you’re trying to make our whole area an urban area. Oak Openings is out in a rural area,” said Jeff Michael, Swanton Township trustee. “We’re proud of being out in a rural area. You’re trying to treat it just as you would your city parks.
“That’s what bothers me. You start getting rid of the wildlife and pretty soon it’s just an urban area. And none of these people want that.”
Other in attendance questioned the method of hunting the deer.
Area resident and former Maumee City Councilman Chris Ferrara said he saw more deer in Maumee than he has in more western areas of Lucas County.
“Don’t murder our deer,” said Ferrara. “Harvest those deer. And harvest them in a humane manner.”
The cull is being handled by marksmen brought in by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. It is taking place over up to 22 nights, but could be completed more quickly.
At a special Metroparks Board meeting on Nov. 24, the cooperative service agreement with the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service was approved. At the meeting, it was reported that Oak Openings and Wildwood Metroparks have the most diverse natural resources that are beginning to be affected by the wildlife.
It was also noted that all venison produced from the effort will be donated to a local food pantry.
Swanton Township resident Randy Hayes questioned the need for sharpshooters from outside the area when local hunters would be more than willing to hunt.
“I understand we can’t close the park,” said Hayes. “But there has to be a middle ground.”
Metroparks officials say they have the best interests of the Metroparks in mind.
“It is our obligation to maintain that property as we see fit,” said Stephen Madewell, executive director of the Metroparks. “To maintain a balance.”
The goal of the cull is to reduce the amount of deer in Oak Openings and Wildwood Preserves by about 200.
Drew Stambaugh can be reached at 419-335-2010