Latest City of Batavia deer management proposal puts police department in charge
Upon the approval of City Council, the Batavia Police Department will take on the responsibility of managing the community’s Deer Management Plan.
A memo dated Sept. 8 from Interim City Manager Rachael Tabelski to council members indicates that “operationally, the Batavia Police Department will manage the program, accept applications, qualify participants, and schedule hunting times, work with participants and landowners on behalf of the City. A special detail will be set up to appoint an officer to this position and we will incur some overtime costs associated with this plan.”
Tabelski writes that additional deer management options added to the plan could be considered by City Council, upon recommendation by the city manager, if the current plan is not successful in reducing the deer population.
Those options are as follows:
- Batavia Police Department culling operation;
- Utilizing a private firm to cull;
- Utilizing the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Service culling operation.
A resolution to approve the revised archery hunting plan, dated Sept. 14, is on the agenda of Monday night’s Business Meeting at City Centre Council Chambers. A Special Conference Meeting will open proceedings at 7 p.m.
Contacted today, Police Chief Shawn Heubusch did not offer any specifics, noting that the plan still has to be endorsed by City Council.
“We’re happy to help out in any way that we can and do our best to move things forward, but everything’s very preliminary right now. With everything else that is on the table, the Police Advisory Stakeholder Group, potential construction of a police facility – there’s just a lot going on.”
This updated plan differs from the one dated Aug. 3, which came out of eight months of meetings of the City’s Deer Management Plan Committee, a five-person group enlisted by City Council. The committee worked primarily with former City Manager Martin Moore and Council liaison John Canale with assistance from New York State Department of Environmental Conservation officials.
The Deer Management Plan Committee abruptly resigned, however, on Aug. 13, citing a breakdown in communication with city leaders and disagreement with modifications to the plan.
The current version of the plan replaces “City Clerk” with “Batavia Police Department” in the Participant Application and Selection Process section as follows: City of Batavia Deer Management Program Hunter Application -- Submission to Batavia Police Department.
It also removes a section that placed the Genesee County Federation of Sportsmen (consisting of 12 clubs) as the top priority for program participants and replaces that with words indicating that proof of residency within the City of Batavia or Genesee County, and/or membership in a hunting club associated with the Genesee County Federation of Sportsmen, and/or City Employee status are required.
The Sept. 14 draft also indicates that the police department would be responsible for all tasks and documentation necessary to qualify potential hunters, schedule hunting times, and assist participants and owners of property in the three of the five identified hunting zones. The other two zones are city property and would be open for hunting only to city employees.
Moreover, the section titled Program Review and Measures of Program Success has been changed from “The City of Batavia Deer Management Committee will meet as needed during the program to review activities and to gather data as to the program’s success” to the following:
The City of Batavia Police Department, City Manager, and qualified program participants will meet as needed during the program to review activities and to gather data as to the program’s success.
That variation is understandable as the Deer Management Committee is no longer intact.
Tabelski’s memo also addressed the Batavia City School District’s current “hybrid” schedule that has some students in school and others learning remotely (at home). The deer plan calls for hunting only between sunrise and 2 p.m., and only when school is in session.
“Due to the temporary pause on the full reopening of schools, and because the top priority of all culling activities is the safety of the community, I recommend that the Batavia Police Department continue to monitor the school situation as it progresses and make an operational decision, based on the changing dynamics of in-school vs. home learning, to determine if the plan can be executed safely this fall.”
In closing, she wrote that the “final plan provides a streamlined program experience, ensures programmatic compliance, program metric tracking, increased safety and oversite (sic), and in increased focus on communication.”
Batavia’s current proposal is similar to the Town of Irondequoit’s deer program, which is managed by its police department.
In a separate development:
Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr. said a discussion of the vacant city manager position is scheduled for Executive Session following Monday night’s meeting.
Jankowski provided a brief update, mentioning The Novak Consulting Group, the Cincinnati, Ohio-based firm that was used in the search that resulted in the hiring of Moore in 2018.
“At the last meeting, City Council was informed that Novak wouldn’t be able to start the city manager search process until late September,” Jankowski said. “At that time, Council requested additional information from the Human Resources department and that information has been provided.
“Due to the sensitive nature of personnel matters, Council will meet in executive session during the upcoming regular Business meeting to decide a path forward in the hiring process.”