ALLIANCE — Flower and shrub beds are at risk in the city, not to mention landscaped lawns.
The culprits are intruding deer that have been making their presence known in Alliance.
Conditions are to the point where City Council is hosting a community forum at 6 p.m. Monday to discuss the nuisance issue with local residents. The meeting will be in the City Council Chamber at 470 E. Market St.
One concern is that some residents cater to the deer by leaving out food.
“They come in town because they know there is food,” Councilman James Edwards said. “And they know there are no predators. They are not dumb. One guy told me he had $2,000 worth of landscape damage. They will eat about everything, especially in the winter; bushes, trees.”
Edwards requested the community forum, prompted by the number calls he has received from residents fed up with the deer. Some have requested City Council enact an ordinance declaring it illegal to feed deer.
“I have seen them all through the city,” Councilman Kristopher Bugara said. “I have had them in my front yard. I have had three in them in my yard.”
Unlike Canton, which is largely surrounded by urbanized townships or other smaller cities, Alliance is more isolated and surrounded by rural areas and farmland. This creates a preferred habitat for deer, which seek out openings in the forested areas created by agriculture practices.
The deer situation is similar to the invasion of another specie of wildlife, Canada geese, according to Michael Dreger, city safety service director. They congregate around ponds in the city. And, just as with the deer, there have been people feeding them.
“This is not the first time I have seen one group of residents mad at another group for feeding animals,” Dreger said.
City officials did not speculate on what type of deer-management program, if any, they will develop.
“We can offer guidance,” said Jamey Emmert, public relations officer for the Ohio Division of Wildlife. “But ultimately, it is up to Alliance. There are all sorts of options.”
The state Division of Wildlife is under the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Emmert pointed out that deer have four primary needs: food, water, shelter and space.
“Even if you have one thing they need, they may be welcome to your property,” she said. “Deer damage is nothing new on the landscape. In the last few decades it has become an issue in urban and suburban areas. They don’t have predators. The only predators are human hunters. Some communities allow hunting. Urban deer are a different type of animal. When humans start feeding them, they just become used to human presence. They expect food. When they don’t get food, they get aggressive. Feeding wildlife is a slippery slope.”
Reach Malcolm at 330-580-8305 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @mhallREP