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July 14, 2020 - 9:39am

City Council seeks public input as it forwards deer management plan to its August meeting

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Two citizen members of the City of Batavia’s Deer Management Plan Committee on Monday night effectively used the spoken word to support a 21-page proposal to reduce the deer population within the City limits.

“I explained the whole management draft that we had worked on for the past eight months – I explained the highlights of that plan and what to expect for the citizens of Batavia. It was very transparent and very clear,” said Russ Nephew, who – along with Samuel DiSalvo – provided details and answered questions about the report at the City Council meeting.

The committee also included Batavia residents Gus Galliford, Fred Gundell and Kent Klotzbach, and was assisted by Council Member John Canale, state Department of Environmental Conservation wildlife specialists, former City Manager Martin Moore and Acting City Manager Rachael Tabelski.

A previous story about the archery-only deer management plan appeared on Saturday on The Batavian. The committee’s first-year goal is to eliminate up to 60 deer.

Nephew and DiSalvo said motivating factors in the committee’s work were not only trying to prevent property damage caused by an overabundance of deer, but also by ticks and diseases that whitetail deer carry, such as Lyme disease, chronic wasting disease and tuberculosis.

The committee met frequently in person and via telephone, and also surveyed areas of the city where deer have been settling. Canale said he was impressed by the group’s commitment.

“It was an experience that I never had in my eight years (on Council),” Canale said. “They took what we tasked them (to do) very seriously... It proved to me that if we can do this with one city problem, we can do this for other city problems.”

Nephew went over the three phases of the plan that deal with dates and times for hunters who opt into the program and also talked about the five designated hunting zones recommended by the committee – private and city-owned land in the areas of Clinton Street, Naramore Drive, State Street (near BOCES), Route 98 south of Walnut Street and Law Street.

He noted other restrictions and requirements pertaining to landowner agreements and DEC setbacks and mentioned that landowners must sign a form authorizing hunting on their property. Furthermore, hunters must have at least five years’ experience and have to pass a test to qualify, he said.

“There are enormous safety guidelines in that plan,” Nephew said. “I think it speaks for itself and I think we got a very good response. So, we’re looking forward, now, to next month and hopefully see this thing approved.”

DiSalvo, a former hunter safety instructor, said deer herds tend to double every year, and for the program to be effective it has to continue on a yearly basis. He said that the committee counted about 83 deer in just two of the designated areas.

“This needs to go forward,” he said. “It would be a shame if we don’t.”

He also talked about the state’s permit process, prompting input from Council President Eugene Jankowski, who is familiar with hunting regulations.

DiSalvo said that members of the 12 clubs that are part of the Genesee County Federation of Sportsmen would be excellent candidates for the program because they have “the proper morals and values, and are experienced.”

Discussion also touched upon where the deer would be dressed after harvesting, hunting on city-owned land, communication among the hunters, enforcement and how and when to approach the landowners.

“I don’t see any of the landowners saying no,” DiSalvo said.

Canale said he hoped that would be the case but “if we lose one area, we can still go forward.”

Jankowski said the “whole plan is pretty much solid except for a couple of minor details” and urged Council to move it to the Aug. 10 meeting for an official vote. In the meantime, he said the public is welcome to send emails and make phone calls to Council members to express their opinions.

Nephew thanked Moore, who departed as city manager last month, for doing a great job -- never missing a meeting and attending a sportsmen’s club meeting, and Lisa Casey, the City’s confidential secretary, for making numerous changes as the plan evolved, as well as Canale, Tabelski and City Attorney George Van Nest.

Photo: Russell Nephew, left, and Samuel DiSalvo addressing City Council on Monday night about the work of the Deer Management Plan Committee. Photo by Mike Pettinella.

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