Deer management continues to divide town

2012-08-12T19:15:00Z 2012-08-13T12:49:04Z Deer management continues to divide townBy Joyce Russell joyce.russell@nwi.com, (219) 762-1397, ext. 2222 nwitimes.com

OGDEN DUNES | Managing Ogden Dunes' deer population continues to be a divisive issue locally.

A cull last fall met with threatened litigation and protests. A deer management task force was formed to look at the issue and give recommendations.

One task force member said officials are ignoring her research. A town official believes Ogden Dunes must conduct another cull this fall.

Bernadette Slawinski, a 35-year resident, served on the task force and spent hours on research to alternative methods of controlling both the deer and tick population. She presented her findings to the town board.

"I'm not sure they even read the report," Slawinski said last week after the Town Council voted to to seek a permit from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources for a second cull.

Slawinski said her research indicated there are other methods to control deer or the tick population.

Several confirmed and suspected cases of Lyme disease have been reported by town residents.

Slawinski said there is a four-poster method that uses insecticides to kill the ticks on deer. There are simpler things residents can do, such as planting deer-tolerant plants and controlling the mice population, but officials and residents don't seem interested, she said.

Town Council President Allen Johnson said the board, on a 4-1 vote, approved seeking a cull permit after the DNR rejected permits for the town to trap and release, use birth control and the four-poster method to control deer.

"We have two options. One is not to do anything and the second is a cull. I firmly believe we have too many deer in town," Johnson said. He has been an Ogden Dunes resident nearly 40 years.

The deer population began to increase about 15 years ago, he said. A deer count last winter said there are at least 55 deer in the 1-square-mile boundaries, he said.

"There are just over 1,100 residents in Ogden Dunes. The Town Board has an obligation to all those residents," said Johnson, adding he believes residents who are against a cull are in the minority. "We believe reducing the number of deer will reduce the number of ticks."

Johnson said while the concern over Lyme disease is the main issue, there is also concern with deer having a negative impact on vegetation and for safety of drivers on the narrow, hilly town roads.

Also last week, the Town Council began considering changing its ordinance to allow the use of bows and arrows. If approved, Johnson said, they would be used only for the cull. They are being considered an option because they are quieter than a rifle.

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