JAMESTOWN – Lawmakers in Jamestown are taking another run at finding a solution to reduce the city’s urban deer population.
Jamestown’s newly established Deer Management Work Group revisited the issue during a special meeting last week.
“I watched nine deer walk single file down the sidewalk on Pershing Avenue heading west to east,” said Bob Johnson, a Jamestown resident part of the Deer Management committee.
There is consensus among the group that action needs to be taken, however, they are still working to determine which approach is best.
During a discussion last week Ward Six Councilman Tom Nelson, who heads the committee, discussed a sterilization approach adopted by Cornell University, which Nelson says despite a costly price tag of $1,200 per buck, the deer problem persisted.
“They found that it didn’t work, the bucks kept coming back,” explained Nelson.
In November, the City Council discussed permitting licensed archers to undertake controlled hunts on city-owned property. However, the resolution on the matter was voted down.
Nelson notes hunting is not permitted in Jamestown and deer seem to realize it. The result is what he calls a great nuisance to residents, who fear the animals could spread Lyme disease and cause car accidents.
C.J. Windward, a biologist who attended the work session, discussed how a similar problem was addressed in northern Philadelphia.
Windward explained for the last 30 years an experienced group of bow hunters have been tasked with thinning the herd.
“I hate to say it, but it was like a concentration camp of deer,” said Windward. “Once the hunters were brought in, weights rose up in line with “cultural carrying capacity” and the herd is now manageable.”
Another biologist who spoke to the council, Ryan Rockefeller, addressed instituting a bait and shoot program. Rockefeller noting deer damage permits have been issued to at least a half dozen New York State municipalities, mostly in Erie County.
He added that a program is feasible for Jamestown and may be necessary to curtail the population.
“It may be something you need to look at to get things steered in the right direction,” said Rockefeller.
Despite his advice, not all agree that lethal measures are the best way to go.
Nelson noted the continued reluctance by some council members, and the City’s police chief, to pursue the route. If lethal procedures were adopted, he says timing would be a major factor for many council members.
“From a council standpoint, I think waiting until later would be more palatable to the council members who know, would rather see, okay our parks are closed now and there’s less likely people out there,” said Nelson.
Nelson says the next steps should be to talk to the police chief and other members of the City Council, as well as residents of Jamestown.
“We really need to talk about educating the public on it and fine tune this,” said Nelson
The Group plans to meet again in mid-April.