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GUEST COMMENTARY: Town should consider residents' concerns before using deer cull

GUEST COMMENTARY: Town should consider residents' concerns before using deer cull


Before you decide whether you support the Ogden Dunes deer cull, answer this question, "Would you like the cull to happen in your backyard?"

For example, Ogden Dunes is only 1 square mile, and that square mile contains about 700 homes. The cull is taking place in a park adjacent to many homes, and even the state Department of Natural Resources states that shooting high-powered rifles within 1,000 feet of homes can be very dangerous.

Unfortunately for adjacent homeowners, the DNR also states that until injury or death occurs, a law has not been broken. Luckily for those affected, when injury or death does occur, Ogden Dunes is civilly libel and the shooter criminally libel. That makes perfect sense to those who live outside of the range of the bullet.

Some residents have said that their children feel troubled over the killing, and lifetime residents in their 90s do not approve of the town's actions.

Safety issues aside, let's consider property values. Imagine a Realtor showing your property to a prospective buyer, "One of the benefits of owning this home is that every year for about 3 1/2 months you get to see deer being baited and slaughtered from the comfort of your living room."

Would it be surprising to know that many residents have been feeling anxiety over this?

Though the Town Council didn't go to the trouble to count the deer, they did survey residents twice reluctantly. Each time a 25 percent majority of residents said that they were against a cull. Though a humane deer management program could get the support of a majority, the Town Council decided to take the most severe action as their first step, ignoring all research that did not support their position.

In fact, some residents feel quite insulted by the fact that the council keeps asking their opinion and then acting against it. By not honoring the democratic process, the council effectively has disenfranchised the majority of its residents. All residents, even those in favor of the cull, would agree that the council's actions have destroyed the fabric of the town, creating a split that at this point seems irreparable.

Next, let's consider the fact that the council has spent more than $11,000 in legal fees to take emergency action to kill deer prior to the Dec. 29 DNR hearing to determine the validity of their permit. It appears Ogden Dunes has overspent its budget, in part, to short-circuit the legal process.

And all this just to shoot a few healthy deer that enjoy tulips? Or is it really just to give a strong message to residents who are opposed to their actions that neither the law nor democracy seems to count much in Ogden Dunes.

Because the town is adjacent to a national park, killing deer will not mean fewer deer in town, but it will mean having frenzied deer jutting into the streets, increasing the likelihood of accidents. The council also admits that killing deer now will have no effect on the number of cases of Lyme disease next year.

At any rate, deer do not cause Lyme disease. The town has not even considered a tick abatement program, which would make more sense than killing deer if Lyme disease was their real concern.

Dona Young is a resident of Ogden Dunes. The opinions are the writer's.


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