Should several municipalities in the area work together to eliminate the overpopulation of deer?
That question is up for debate because the municipalities have heard from several constituents who have had problems with deer eating their trees and bushes, and causing traffic accidents.
The issue has worsened to the point where town of Ellicott officials are calling for a group meeting of municipal officials and local residents, to discuss the deer management option of ''bait and shoot.'' The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Monday, Sept. 9, at the Ellicott Town Administration building, 215 S. Work St., Falconer. Tim Spierto, Department of Environmental Conservation region 9 big game biologist, has been invited to talk about the deer harvesting program.
One municipality has already participated in a DEC bait and shoot or deer damage permit program. Celoron in 2011 and 2012 participated in a program that killed 44 deer. Eligibility for permits is based on property damage and the lack of, or failure, of other practical alternatives to alleviate the problem. The permittee must report all deer taken to DEC. The criteria states the harvester needs to be at least 18 years of age, has been issued a hunting license or has completed a hunter's safety course and cannot have any violations against DEC hunting laws. All harvesting is done from an elevated position for safety. The deer damage permits are available throughout the state.
All the meat taken from the deer will be donated to the Food Bank of Western New York. In 2011, 1,200 pounds of venison was taken from the deer, which produce 4,800 meals for the Food Bank. In 2012, 363 pounds of venison was donated to the Food Bank.
Celoron did not continue the program in 2013. Scott Schrecengost, Celoron mayor, said the program was not continued because they had trouble finding locations to do the bait and shoot program. The program has to be done on land where there is no occupied building within 500 feet or where you have the permission of the property owners inside the regulated area.
"With the program, part of the problem is finding an area you can shoot in, and you have to follow the 500 feet area guidelines," Schrecengost said. "That is tough to do in a lot of areas."
In 2011, it was reported two areas in Celoron were used to harvest deer. In 2012, one area was reported used for the program.
"Right now, we only have one area to do it in. That is why we quit the program, we lost an area to do it in," Schrecengost said. "We are limited to three parcels to do it in, and if the land owner doesn't agree to it, the program is done."
In the town of Busti, officials have done a DEC deer management assistance program. In 2012, additional permits were given to license hunters to kill additional deer - aside from what state laws already allows - during the open hunting season. Town officials reported 13 additional deer were killed in Busti using the permits. The town of Busti has applied to run the program again during the 2013 hunting season.
"I think we should be working together," said Jesse Robbins, Busti supervisor, said about municipal leaders working together on some type of program to limit the deer herd.
Cecil Miller III, Ellicott supervisor, said he doesn't know if all municipalities should do some type of DEC program to decrease the deer population. However, he said municipal leaders should be at least informed of their options.
"It is important for everyone to have information on what the options are," he said.
David Wordelmann, Lakewood mayor, didn't return phone calls to The Post-Journal asking his opinion on the program to lessen the deer population in the area.