MENTOR, Ohio — If you're a Mentor resident who sees a low-flying helicopter over your neighborhood don't be alarmed, it's just the USDA conducting an aerial survey of deer herds.
The aerial survey
Starting on Jan. 23, the USDA began checking on deer herds throughout the city. It's part of the city's Deer Management Program.
"The aim of the program is to maintain herds at sustainable levels and the result has been a marked reduction in traffic accidents as well as improved biodiversity throughout the city," Mentor officials said. "Please do not be alarmed if you see a helicopter flying low or hovering over your neighborhood, and to only call 911 if you are experiencing an emergency."
What is Mentor's Deer Management Program?
According to the city, the program started in 2013 as a way to oversee the deer overpopulation and the issues it causes in the community.
The city said the deer population in Mentor had outgrown its food supply, and deer wreaked havoc on saplings, wildflowers and plants in the city at private homes and parks like the Mentor Lagoons Nature Preserve and the Mentor Marsh.
The lack of food caused the deer to become disease-prone and underweight. This compounded with problems with other species such as birds and smaller animals that rely on plants the deer have eaten.
To fight the overpopulation, the city said it started an urban bow-hunting and culling program to manage the deer. Several years after that implementation, "flora and fauna have rebounded dramatically," which refers to plant and animal life, and the deer are no longer underweight and disease prone.
Other benefits of the deer population control include a reduction in car crashes involving deer in high incident areas. The city said it has seen around a 50% crash reduction involving deer over the last five years.
The program has done so well for the city, other municipalities in Ohio are using it.
"It's a really fantastic program," said Mentor Community Relations Administrator Ante Logarusic. "Other cities around the state are using it as a model."
Other benefits of the program include meat donations to help those in need. Tens of thousands of pounds of venison have been collected and given to local food banks.
CLICK HERE to read more about Mentor's deer management program.
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