State Representative Lauren McNally has issued a statement on the Mill Creek MetroPark's plan for a controlled hunt to thin the deer population.

Below is the statement from Rep. McNally:

"The deer mitigation plan being proposed by Mill Creek Metroparks has been a source of contention for Mahoning County residents, many of whom have reached out to me personally or to my office to discuss it. I understand and share the concerns raised about the hunting portion of the Metroparks' plan, especially in densely populated areas like the city of Youngstown. I also share the goal of ensuring the longevity of our Metroparks and properly preserving this incredible community asset for the long-haul," said Rep. McNally. "That is why I have dedicated numerous resources from my office and various departments within the state to help address the questions on people's minds and give them answers. This information is the result of that time and work."

After several residents contacted her office, McNally reached out to the Legislative Service Commission (LSC) for information on the intersection of state agencies, state law, case law and the governance of Metroparks in Ohio.

The LSC responded to McNally's questions including if a municipal corporation can ban hunting and if there is a case pertaining to the intersection of local and state governments regarding hunting.

Both questions must be answered by a court according to the LSC.

The LSC report said municipal corporations have authority to supplement state law but an ordinance cannot conflict with state law. When applied to hunting, the LSC said all wildlife is the property of the state of Ohio and may only be taken in accordance with the law governing hunting.

The committee did not find a court case covering the specific issue regarding municipal bans on hunting. They did however find an Attorney General Opinion from 1966 that opined that a municipal ordinance violates home rule when it conflicts with a general state law.

Culling deer is not the same as hunting under Ohio law.

The committee found that according to the Division of Wildlife, most communities with significant deer conflicts have local ordinances in place which prohibit the discharge of hunting implements. The ODNR Division of Wildlife’s hunting framework does not supersede these local ordinances; therefore, communities wishing to use lethal techniques to address their deer problems need to implement special regulations to allow for these techniques to be used in their community.

Other Metroparks within the state have also implemented controlled hunting or targeted removal of deer.

The following Metroparks have controlled hunting:

  • Five Rivers Metropark
  • Great Parks of Hamilton Co
  • Franklin/Columbus Metroparks
  • Cleveland Metroparks
  • Summit Metro Parks
  • Geauga Park District
  • Medina Park District
  • Ashland Park District
  • Lorain County Metroparks
  • Ashtabula County Park District
  • Stark Parks
  • Trumbull County Metroparks
  • Columbiana County Park District

These Metroparks use targeted removal:

  • Franklin/Columbus Metroparks
  • Five Rivers Metroparks
  • Great Parks of Hamilton Co
  • Summit Metro Parks
  • Cleveland Metroparks
  • Cuyahoga Valley National Park
  • Lake County Metroparks
  • Lorain County Metroparks

"People are scared, confused, and looking for ways to calm their fears. My hope is that this unbiased, nonpartisan research will better inform their understanding of who is in charge of what, how decisions are made, and what the state actually does or can do when it comes to these plans," said Rep. McNally. "My office is always open to conversations and suggestions on how we can make Ohio and the Mahoning Valley better."