By Marissa Stipek For the Miami Student
While walking around campus, students may notice the deer in Oxford are not afraid to get up close and personal. The furry creatures can be spotted on the hiking and running trails, the shortcut through Bishop Woods and even near the residence halls.
The high population of deer and their destructive behavior is also a problem in the city of Oxford. Residents complain the deer’s eating habits are ruining their gardens and landscaping.
City Manager Doug Elliott said the deer are a big issue in Oxford.
“The deer just devastate everything,” Elliott said. “You couldn’t see any plant growth.” Elliott said he knew something had to be done to combat the problem. In 2009, the Oxford Deer Management Program, (ODMP), was approved by Oxford City Council. In its first year, the ODMP designated four city-owned properties for hunting grounds.
Today, a combination of nine city and privately owned properties are included in the legal hunting sites, listed below.
According to the program outline, 16 hunters may register per season. Potential hunters must receive approval from the city manager, based on criteria such as background checks and the ability to pass a bow-shooting test.
Only bow hunting is allowed, according to program restrictions, and hunters must utilize a tree stand. Tree stands generally vary from 15-20 feet, and are used to prevent hunters from being on the ground where they could mistakenly be shot at.
Once hunters are accepted into the program, only one may hunt in one location at a time. Hunters must notify the city manager about the time and place they plan to hunt and must keep their permit on them while hunting. They also must report when a deer is harvested.
While hunters are encouraged to donate the deer to a local food bank or the Community Meal Center, it is not always required.
Elliot said there is a “3-2-1” rule in place which states that for every three deer harvested, if two are donated, the hunter may keep the third. Furthermore, this rule dictates that two out of every three deer harvested be female. Elliott said reducing the number of female deer is crucial because one buck, or male deer, can impregnate multiple does, or female deer, leading to increased population over time. Having less female deer available to reproduce helps keeps the numbers down.
Further protocol for deer harvesting involves taking the deer to be processed. There are two options for where to do this: H&M Processing in Okeana, Ohio, and Schaeffer’s Deer Processing in Trenton, Ohio.
Elizabeth Schaeffer, an employee at Schaeffer’s Deer Processing, said the company processes between 1,500 and 2,000 deer from Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana each season. Procedures include removing the legs, weighing and skinning the deer and sending them to a special grind room. Because it is illegal to sell deer meat for profit in Ohio, it can then be picked back up by the hunter or donated. Schaeffer said many donations go through an organization called Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry (FHFH). FHFH, a nationwide Christian organization, donates damaged farm crops and harvested deer meat to local foodbanks. Aside from the FHFH, Schaeffer’s processes deer for donation to the ODMP and other local community centers, soup kitchens and churches.
ODMP specifically donates to the Community Meal Center in Hamilton, Ohio.
Elliott said most residents have noticed a difference in deer population over the past few years.
“Some wish we could take more deer,” Elliott said. “But I would say the average citizen thinks its good. We want to manage the deer population, not eliminate it. Our goal has been to reduce, and I think we have been successful with that.”
Miami Sophomore Ariana Hester said she has never hunted, but has friends who do. She thinks the ODMP is a good idea because it controls the number of deer in the community and on campus.
“The deer on campus need to be regulated,” Hester said. “There’s so many that it can be dangerous for students, especially if you are driving. By limiting the number of deer, it will help keep the students safer.”