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Granville Recruits Bowhunters To Cull Deer Herd.

The Village of Granville is the latest central Ohio community to turn to bowhunters as a way to control a burgeoning population of white tail deer. Bowhunters will soon be taking aim in the yards of residents who volunteer their properties for hunting. WOSU's Christina Morgan reports, not everyone in the village favors the use of lethal means to control the deer

"I think the plan to have bowhunting in the village is horrendous." Says Sharen Silletto.

Sharen Silletto has lived on South Cherry Street in Granville for 16 years. Her area, like much of the village, features mature trees and lush, leafy plant-life. Her property backs up to a thickly-wooded park called Sugar Loaf Mountain. So Silletto is not surprised to see deer wandering into her yard. An avid gardener, Silletto says she uses wire to protect young plants or sprays to discourage hungry deer.

"There's a lot of things you can do that are non-lethal, things to protect your plants, so you can live with the deer. I just think they're beautiful." Says Silletto.

Non-lethal controls are part of the deer management plan adopted in recent weeks by the Granville village council. But Councilwoman Debbie Techmeyer contends the lethal component, bowhunting, was necessary

"We're as human beings still trying to figure out how best to live with wildlife in our urban areas. Says Techmeyer.

Gary Ludwig is the state Division of Wildlife's management supervisor for central Ohio. He has worked with Granville and other communities considering the use of bowhunting. He's listened to concerns of residents and political officials as well. And the way he explains it, these folks are up against a tough opponent in the white tailed deer in an urban environment.

"They're born here. They're raised here. They're where they want to be." Says Ludwig

The white tailed deer has no natural predator in Ohio, adapts rapidly to change and doe-s reproduce at a rate of about two fawns per year. The state uses hunting as a way to manage herd levels in rural areas. But in urban settings, deer are free to roam and dine to their heart's content, two things, Techmeyer says Granville residents have been seeing plenty of in recent years.

"Lots of landscaping has been devoured, plants deer don't traditionally eat are consumed, lots of dead and wounded animals on the road due to impacts with cars."

Techmeyer says bowhunting seems more safety conscious than using guns.

(Sound - arrow shot)

That is the sound of an arrow, fired from a double crossbow, hitting a fake deer in the "kill area," a surprisingly large area below and behind the shoulder blade. That's where the lungs and the heart are located.

"Broken Arrow Archery," north of Newark, is where hunters must prove their proficiency with a bow before being allowed to hunt in Granville. Owner Carol Sue Martin says hunters stand 20 yards from a circular target which is 6 inches in diameter, and they fire 6 arrows

"You need to shoot six arrows inside the circle." Says Martin.

If one arrow lands outside the circle, that hunter will not be using his bow in Granville. Hunter Don Roberts is not worried about qualifying for the urban hunt. But, he says the village has imposed too many rules and regulations.

"If they want me to have a background check, let them pay for it. We're doing them a favor getting the deer out of their flower beds." Says Roberts

"They have to have their fingerprints taken and submitted to BCI." Says Granville Police Chief Jim Mason

So we can check for criminal history and background and know whether they have disqualifiers for handling weapons." He adds.

In addition to the background check and the archery proficiency test, Chief Mason says hunters must fill out an application form, sign an agreement, take a hunter safety program, submit a resume of their hunting experience with a focus on urban hunting.

The Division of Wildlife's Gary Ludwig says in his 26 years with the division, he is not aware of bowhunting in urban areas resulting in any injury to a person or their pet.

But bowhunting's urban safety record and the tough regulations imposed by Granville are little comfort to resident Sharon Silletto. "They're planning on having hunting in the cemetery, and all I can imagine is my mother going to visit my father's grave in an orange vest because it's hunting season in the cemetery in Granville." Says Silletto.

The bowhunting season in Granville mirrors the state's bowhunting season. It runs through February 3rd.

Christina Morgan, WOSU News