CELORON - There are few options available to Celoron residents concerned about the overpopulation of deer in the village.
On Wednesday, village officials held a public meeting to ask questions of the Village Board, Tim Spierto, a Department of Environmental Conservation regional big game biologist, and Sgt. David Arnone of the Ellicott Police Department. Spierto said there is an estimated 60 to 70 deer in the square mile radius that is the village. He said a healthy population of deer in a square mile area should be between 20 to 30 deer.
''We have a problem,'' he said. ''The problem didn't happen overnight. The solution won't happen overnight, either.''
Spierto said problems that exist in an area that is overpopulated with deer include auto-deer accidents, diseases and the increase in the population of other animals like coyotes and black bears.
''There is very little we can do,'' he said. ''We have options, but in reality we have few options.''
Spierto said the village could change its laws to permit the firing of firearms in the village to allow hunting. He said at minimum the village should allow bow hunting, which is considered a firearm.
Spierto said the village could allow bow hunting with restrictions like only allowing hunters to fire shots from a tree stand to prevent errant arrows from going into populated areas. He said there are very few injuries reported from bow hunting each year. He said the biggest problem associated with hunting is trespassing complaints. State law says a firearm cannot be fired within 500 feet of a residence without the owner's permission.
''Hunting/conservation are the (programs) really making a difference,'' he said.
The big game biologist said another option would be to allow permitted sharpshooters in to hunt out of season. He said background checks would be done on those who would be allowed to participate to make sure they have no violations. He said the program is being done in Clarence and is working. However, he said it can be costly to pay the hunters.
The third option could be a trap and transfer, but said very expensive and probably wouldn't be able to find another community willing to take on Celoron's overpopulation of deer. He said the fourth option would be contraception by drugging the deer to prevent offspring, but it is an even more expensive program.
One resident suggested to the board to work with Lakewood and Jamestown on a mutual program to control the deer population. Another resident asked whose responsibility it is to know the 500-foot boundary to determine whether hunting would be allowed on someone's property. Spierto said it is up to the hunter.
Another resident asked what they can do to protect property like landscaping and shrubbery. Spierto said homeowners should make deer feel uncomfortable when they are on a property by chasing them away any way possible. He also said homeowners should buy trees and shrubs that deer don't like to eat.
Spierto also said it is illegal to feed deer. He said it might be kindhearted idea, but can change a deer's digestive system to the point it may kill them.
''Biologically it is a bad idea,'' he said.
Mayor John Keeney said the village will continue to think about what should be done and how it should be done. He said nothing will be passed without a public hearing first, which will be publicized. The board's next meeting is Nov. 8.