A Summit Metro Parks ranger was grazed by a bullet during a deer culling exercise last month.
The ranger was part of a team working in Hampton Hills Metro Park the evening of Jan. 24 to reduce the deer population in the area to healthy natural levels, according to a statement released Wednesday by Summit Metro Parks chief of marketing and communications Stephanie Walton.
The statement was issued in response to questions from the Beacon Journal/Ohio.com about the incident.
The ranger “was grazed by a round that was accidentally discharged while he was on duty at Hampton Hills Metro Park,” Walton said in the statement.
The ranger sustained minor injuries and was treated and released from a local hospital the same night, according to the statement. He has returned to work.
Walton declined to share details about the incident, including where the ranger was grazed and how the round was accidentally discharged, saying the incident remains under investigation by the park district.
The bullet that hit the ranger came from the weapon of another Summit Metro Parks employee who also was participating in the deer culling, Walton said. She declined to identify the individual, who has returned to work.
“Any potential disciplinary action would only take place following the results of the investigation,” she said. “So again, that’s ongoing.”
Walton said the park district has been managing deer populations in the metro parks for about 15 years through a program overseen by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources that usually starts near the beginning of each year.
This year’s deer culling program has been suspended “out of an abundance of caution” while the park district conducts a thorough investigation into the incident, Walton said.
“The safety of our visitors and employees is always our top priority and while we are grateful that his injuries were not serious, we are committed to fully investigating the circumstances of this incident so that it may never happen again,” Walton said.
Hampton Hills Metro Park is located in Akron and Cuyahoga Falls off Akron-Peninsula Road, between West Bath Road and West Steels Corners Road.
Emily Mills can be reached at 330-996-3334, firstname.lastname@example.org and @EmilyMills818.