Hunters in the Ohio town of Avon Lake rejoiced last month after a new ordinance allowed year-round bow hunting for the purpose of managing the deer population. However, City Council member Dave Kos recently introduced a new alternative that has come under criticism by wildlife officials: using paintballs to scare the animals away.
“It’s been discussed with Ohio Department of Natural Resources (DNR) that shooting a deer near the hoof with a paintball gun will get them to scatter,” Kos told The Elyria Chronicle-Telegram.
Kos, who believed that the ordinance was less than safe, proposed the paintball solution for residents who had nuisance deer, but were either unable to procure a deer control permit or were unwilling to use firearms. Avon Lake has been struggling with handling nuisance deer for years, and officials say that the local population has grown out of hand. In addition to becoming a hazard for local motorists, the animals have also been ripping up lawns, degrading nearby forests, and in at least one incident, even attacked a resident. The City Council has been in talks for more efficient deer management for the past two years, but not everyone approved of hunting. Some say that the year-round season could be dangerous for residents, while others wanted a non-lethal solution.
“Let me stress that to do nothing is also an unsafe situation,” Mayor Greg Zilka told Fox 8.
Residents can now manage the deer themselves, provided they can gain a deer control permit from local police. To that, hunters need to present officials with a detailed map of where they will be hunting, the signature of the property owner, and fill out an application. For those eager to skip the process, Kos says that paintball guns could offer an alternative.
Wildlife officials however, have doubts over whether the paintballs will actually scare the deer away. While the animal may be initially startled by the impact of paintball, the harmless projectile may not prevent the deer from returning. Geoff Westerfield, DNR wildlife management supervisor, said that deer are often struck by branches and other objects in the wild. In addition, officials say that opening the door to shooting deer with paintballs may lead to harassment.
“I really don’t want to deal with phone calls of a polka-dot deer running around town because it’s gotten hit with 17 different colors of paint balls,” Westerfield told the Chronicle-Telegram.
Kos says he will bring up the issue again in the fall.