Deer culls near Toledo produce tons of venison for needy

Here is a three-cheer shout-out to Metroparks of the Toledo Area and Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry for their recent work in channeling nearly five tons of nutritious, delicious venison to the plates of needy residents in northwest Ohio.

The Metroparks and FHFH shared the $12,000 cost of processing 9,540 pounds of ground venison to Cherry Street Mission Ministries, of Toledo, and 400 more pounds to the food pantry run by the Society of St. Vincent de Paul at Holy Trinity Catholic Church at Assumption, Ohio, in western Lucas County.

Dan Rogers, Cherry Street Mission’s president and chief executive officer, told The Blade newspaper that some of the venison given to his group will be shared with food programs at Helping Hands of Saint Louis in East Toledo, Toledo Gospel Rescue Mission, and Pilgrim Church.

All that tasty deer meat no doubt will go into soups, chili, burgers and more. It came from 200 deer killed by sharpshooters in culls, 150 in a two-day shoot in January at the sprawling Oak Openings Preserve Metropark in western Lucas County and 50 more in a two-day project in February at Swan Creek Preserve Metropark in southwest Toledo. A limited bowhunt also had been conducted at Oak Openings, but it did not claim enough deer to preclude the cull-shoot.

The region has been a hotbed for deer controversies of late, with another revolving around a limited and highly controlled bowhunt in toney, suburban Ottawa Hills village, where increasing deer damage to landscaping and traffic collisions have been an ongoing problem.

But the village said that bow hunters on Jan. 6 reached their prescribed 30-deer limit, happily without incident. Villagers voted to approve the highly controversial hunt in 2015, five years after they rejected a proposal to have sharpshooters kill the herd. Sometimes the education curve is slow.

Hunters killed 24 does and six bucks between Sept. 24 and Jan. 6. The village may consider a similar hunt next fall, pending surveys and traffic reports. Venison from six deer was donated to FHFH programs as well.

In the Metroparks, sharpshooters took 36 does and 14 bucks at Swan Creek and 105 does and 45 bucks at Oak Openings, working under a state wildlife permit approved for the Metroparks that allowed for up to 25 percent of the removed deer to be antlered, the newspaper reported.

The culls were part of a no-nonsense Metroparks’ deer-management program to control the white-tailed deer and reduce the ecological damage associated with burgeoning herds. But the agency took some political hits from some sectors of the public for the usual ungrounded, if emotional reasons.

In fact, the Swan Creek cull was delayed because Toledo councilmen, caving in to pressure from anti-cull activists, at first refused to sign a waiver on the deer kill at Swan Creek. The delay was linked to possible legal issues involving violation of a municipal law prohibiting hunting and discharging a firearm within the city.

Ultimately, council saw the light, approved the waiver, and the rest is ground venison.

 

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