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City of Batavia's Deer Management Plan Committee

September 14, 2020 - 10:06pm

The path to passing a City of Batavia Deer Management Plant plan -- fraught with controversy, changes and a bit of confusion – became much clearer tonight when City Council approved a proposal giving its police department oversight of the operation.

By a vote of 6-2, Council endorsed an archery-only plan that puts management in the hands of police – understanding there will be overtime costs involved – and also allows only city employees to hunt on two parcels of city property and restricts hunting to antlerless-only deer in those two zones.

Council members Jeremy Karas, Patti Pacino, Kathleen Briggs, Al McGinnis, John Canale (who was the liaison to the Deer Management Plan Committee that resigned in protest of changes to the original plan on Aug. 13) and President Eugene Jankowski voted in favor of the plan. Council members Robert Bialkowski and Rose Mary Christian voted against the plan.

It was Jankowski who introduced an amendment to prohibit the taking of deer with antlers on city property. That passed by a 7-1 count with McGinnis, who objected to the amount of time (about an hour) spent debating the pros and cons of the plan, abstaining.

Council Member Paul Viele was not in attendance.

Apparently taking the advice of Canale, who brought up the board’s history of “kicking the can down the road,” Council decided to adopt the plan and worry about implementation later, especially in light of the Batavia City School District’s “hybrid” schedule that has some students learning remotely from home.

“I don’t see what else there is to discuss,” said Canale, adding that the police department is more than capable of deciding whether it is safe for people to hunt in any of the five pre-determined zones. “It’s not like we’re sending out people into the woods on October 1st with bows and arrows” if the police deem that it’s not safe.

Jankowski said he agreed with Canale, urging his colleagues to “approve this and (then) the implementation is up in the air.”

“Personally, I don’t think it would have worked well for the volunteer (committee) to take on that kind of work,” Jankowski said.

Police Chief Shawn Heubusch said he anticipates overtime charges of $4,000 to $5,000 annually, calling it a “conservative estimate depending upon the level of commitment.” He also said he will select an officer from the department to head the program.

Heubusch said he plans to reach out to Town of Irondequoit police officers, who run the program there, as well as talk to landowners in the three zones that aren’t city property, and attempt to get landowner agreements signed and set up the selection process.

“There’s a lot of work (to be done),” he said, noting that although the department is fully staffed, it isn’t at a point where he can take an officer off the road.

City Attorney George Van Nest reported that he has already spoken with people in Irondequoit, who indicated that the Monroe County town’s program “works well and is effective.” He also said state Department of Environmental Conservation officials support the “tweaks” made by him and Acting City Manager Rachael Tabelski.

The most significant changes were moving oversight from the Deer Management Plan Committee to the police department, giving city employees exclusive rights to hunt on city property – eliminating members of the Genesee County Federation of Sportsmen – and, per tonight’s amendment, putting in a provision to cull antlerless-only deer on city property.

Jankowski said he received thirdhand information that someone saw a large buck on one of the properties and that “somebody has designs on those antlers.” His amendment, however, can not be enforced on land owned by private citizens who agree to participate in the plan to reduce the deer population.

Van Nest said a New York State hunting license gives hunters the authority to take a buck on private property.

Before the vote to pass or reject the amended plan, Bialkowski attempted to table the measure, stating that the latest plan (dated Sept. 14) was not presented in a Conference Meeting, it comes with increased costs and was subject to a review of the school’s scheduling.

“I’d like to refer it back to committee … back to a Conference Meeting,” he said.

Christian supported tabling it as well, with her comments indicating she thought the plan included hunting by guns along with bow and arrow.

That’s when Canale spoke up, noting that the Deer Management Plan Committee worked very hard and for a long time (eight months) to put together “a wonderful plan, working with (former City Manager) Dr. (Martin) Moore on the “meat and potatoes of the plan.”

He credited Tabelski for making necessary revisions.

“I don’t think kicking the can down the road will help us out,” he said. “Approve it tonight and implement it when it’s safe.”

As a result, a vote to table the plan was defeated by a 6-2 count with Bialkowski and Christian voting to table it.

The deer management plan subject came up right from the start of the Special Conference Meeting that preceded the Business Meeting where the resolution ultimately was approved.

Batavia residents Sammy DiSalvo, David Majewski and his son, Noah Majewski, spoke about the plan during the public comments portion of the agenda.

DiSalvo said he identified “at least 20 changes from the original proposal – at least five of which are entirely new.”

He said he took issue with “taking away power from people who are citizens and experienced hunters.”

“I am sure there are many police officers who do hunt and are very capable, but you are taking this away from people who have spent 50-60 years as the main thing that they do,” he said.

As far as private property is concerned, DiSalvo said that owners of the three non-city property areas have decided not to participate in the plan – something that took Council and city management by surprise.

“I find it suspicious that Mr. DiSalvo, whose father (Samuel) was on the deer committee, is saying that everybody but the city is not participating,” Jankowski said. “He’s making detailed responses about landowners that we don’t even know about yet.”

DiSalvo applauded the police department for the great job it does in law enforcement, but disagreed with putting the responsibility of the deer management plan upon the officers.

David Majewski said he was concerned about people coming on his son’s property (25 acres) off Alexander Road, which is adjacent to one of the city-owned parcels. He said his son manages the property for deer hunting, and is worried that deer remains left on his property would attract more coyotes to the area.

“I’m kind of curious as to why city employees will be allowed to hunt. There are plenty of other good hunters,” he said.

He said he was also concerned about liability and the possibility of a lawsuit should someone trespass onto his son’s land – which he uses for beaver trapping -- and suffer an injury.

Noah said he has encountered many people trespassing from city property onto his property.

“I’ve notified people in the City of Batavia building and nobody seems to care. They usually end up being friends of people,” he said.

He also mentioned liability and that he runs “nuisance beaver traps” with a nuisance beaver permit from the DEC. He said the traps are set around a swamp and he would hate to see someone step in one of those traps.

“I just feel like this is opening up a whole new can of worms to bring more people into an area that’s populated with people, that has people running around there," he said. "... and not knowing who’s going to be hunting back there or anything like that, it’s a big area of concern for me.”

September 11, 2020 - 12:59pm

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.”

August 11, 2020 - 11:38am

In what amounted to a protracted exercise in damage control, a few members of Batavia City Council and the acting city manager on Monday night accepted some responsibility for miscommunication with the Deer Management Plan Committee that has spent the past nine months working on ways to reduce the deer population in the city.

Council as whole, however, stopped short of approving the plan, instead opting to table it for further discussion and a possible vote at its Sept. 14 Business meeting at City Hall Council Chambers.

Council Member Robert Bialkowski’s question, “We’re there some changes made that didn’t include the committee?” triggered a 20-minute discussion – mostly a back-and-forth between Council Member and committee liaison John Canale and Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr., with some input from Acting City Manager Rachael Tabelski.

Bialkowski’s query stemmed from a story on The Batavian last Friday indicating that the five-member committee believed that changes to the plan they had largely crafted were made without its knowledge or involvement.

Speaking for the committee in that story, Russ Nephew said they had been left out of the loop, and accused management of going behind closed doors to modify wording in the 21-page document. Other committee members are Samuel DiSalvo, Fred Gundell, Gus Galliford and Kent Klotzbach.

Phone Call to Committee Member not Returned

For his part, Canale said that he didn’t return a phone call from Nephew to provide an update, action that could have prevented hard feelings.

“To Bob’s point, this (the process of city management and attorney review and insertion of legal wording) was all going on and I had not gotten back to one of the committee members (Nephew) who has taken on one of the lead roles of the committee,” Canale said. “Because of that, and I had all intentions of calling him on the weekend, but what came up is I got a call from The Batavian, asking for comment on this because one of the committee members, Russ Nephew, had called and felt that they were being left out of the process.”

Reportedly, the committee took exception to not being informed of the following changes that were outlined in an Aug. 4 memo from Tabelski:

  • Nobody other than city employees who qualify for the program will be allowed to hunt in areas 4 and 5, which are predominantly city-owned parcels located near the wastewater treatment plant and yard waste station.
  • While supporting approval of the plan, “all activities related to (its) implementation” will be prohibited “until schools in Batavia are fully reopened.”

School Situation Changes Things

Canale addressed the school situation, stating that he brought the Batavia City School District’s hybrid schedule – some days in school and some days learning remotely at home – to Tabelski’s attention, putting safety first, and recommended holding off on any culling activities.

The plan stipulates that hunting in any of the five identified zones could take place only when school is in session.

“The wording as it stands now will not allow us to do the hunt,” Jankowski noted.

As far as the communication issues, Canale said he takes full blame “because I did not have the opportunity to get back to the committee and let them know what was going on.”

“It was also part of Rachael and I trying to work this thing out so we could get this thing approved and get it in motion,” he added.

Bialkowski said he wasn’t looking to blame anyone, but felt that the deer committee should have the opportunity to discuss the revisions.

Jankowski said he spoke to DiSalvo and Nephew earlier Monday.

Different Takeaways from Conversation

“He (Nephew) said he got a little overzealous and he got angry and went to the paper (The Batavian) instead of calling one of us and finding out what was going on,” Jankowski reported. “So, he was sorry about that, and said that he made a poor choice there. But he didn’t want that to cloud the issue of all the important work they have done.”

Contacted this morning, Nephew disputed Jankowski’s interpretation of their conversation.

“I did not say that I was sorry, I did not say that I made a poor choice in calling The Batavian and I never got emotional,” Nephew said. “Jankowski said, 'Gee Russ, I wish you would have called me first,' and I said "If you remember right, I did call you about John Canale not calling me back and you did nothing. And that’s why I went to the paper and I would do it again.' ”

During last night’s meeting Jankowski put forth two options – voting for the plan and amending it later, or tabling it.

“They (the committee) have a meeting scheduled for Thursday of this week (9 a.m. at City Hall),” Jankowski advised. “That was going to be more of an implementation meeting, but now it could be a ‘clean up that wording’ meeting, and all the miscommunication can be aired out at that meeting. Then we can bring it back to Council and have the final product then .. or we can vote on it now and amend that wording so that it works.”

Jankowski said that hunting will not be allowed until school “goes into a full-blown normal mode” (all students in the school buildings),” adding that no one knows how long the hybrid schedule will be in force.

Bialkowski: Stick with Our Committees

Bialkowski said his priority was to make sure committees comprised of city residents were treated with respect.

“My bigger concern is that when we appoint citizen committees we stay interactive with the committees and follow the committees through,” he said, citing past instances where committees worked hard and made progress before suddenly being disbanded by management.

As he did in the previous story on The Batavian, Canale explained that the committee did its job, and now the time had come for Tabelski and City Attorney George Van Nest to do theirs “for legal purposes and operational purposes.”

“(Former City Manager) Martin Moore would have had to do that same thing at some point and time … and that is what Rachael did in conjunction with George, the attorney. I explained that to Russ,” Canale said. “Unfortunately, it was Rachael Tabelski, a new player in the picture … and the appearance was she was making changes to the plan without notifying them.”

Canale said the committee will continue to be a “key player” in the city’s effort to thin the deer herd – charged with reporting back to Council with the plan’s progress – but Jankowski interjected that would be the case “at least in the beginning.”

“Eventually, we will need to take it over,” he said. “This can’t go on indefinitely.”

Nephew, responding today, said that the deer committee is designed to be a perpetual group, unlike other city committees.

“I told Jankowski that this is a committee that continually serves, year after year,” he said.

Areas 4 and 5 for City Employees Only

Tabelski said that she had set up the Thursday meeting with the committee to start implementation work.

“We are in a quiet period between legislative matters between one meeting to another – it’s a quiet period, nothing happens, and I think the committee, and maybe I didn’t communicate that well enough, but nothing happens right now,” she said. “This plan, Council looked at it in Conference, it’s coming to Business, we’ll move that forward and then will work on implementation.”

She said that there is only one change from the draft plan – the part about deer management areas 4 and 5, which are largely city property.

“… this plan would allow for city employees who qualify for the program to access the city-owned property only. So that is the only change, to be clear, in the actual plan document,” she said. “Originally, there was no intent of having anyone hunt on city property, so this is actually expanding the ability to hunt on that property.”

Jankowski said he communicated that to committee members on separate occasions.

“I talked to them tonight about it and they were OK with it. Like you said, it was a misunderstanding. I know they were warned in May or June about that but somehow ‘in one ear, out the other,’” he said. “They didn’t click on that and when it came down to the implementation and they read it, they said, 'Where did this come from?' ”

He said he hoped that things will get ironed out on Thursday at the meeting, which he plans to attend.

An Oversight or an Afterthought?

None of the deer committee members were at last night’s meeting, but all are expected to take part in Thursday’s meeting. But even that became a bone of contention as Nephew believes his group was invited as an afterthought.

“I found that there was going to be a meeting on August 13th at 9 in the morning, so I called John Canale and also wanted to ask him if he heard that and if the attorney and Rachael were going to allow just city employees to hunt on areas 4 and 5,” Nephew said. “He said he didn’t know about that.”

Nephew said that Canale shared the email that he had received about the meeting on Thursday.

“He sent it to us and we weren’t included on the email; it was only Canale, Van Nest and Lisa Casey, their secretary. I emailed Lisa and she said your names were not on there. We will be sending an email to invite you,” he said.

“When somebody sends an email and it’s only two people, you would also say, "Let me know if you can make it.' I would think that you would send it to everyone and ask if they can make it. That’s the normal thing to do.”

Previous story: City proposes changes to deer management plan

August 7, 2020 - 4:55pm

In light of a couple of proposed changes and despite some recent miscommunication, the City Council liaison to the municipality’s Deer Management Plan Committee says he is confident the documented strategy to reduce the deer population will be approved Monday night.

City Council has scheduled both a Conference and Business meeting, starting at 7 p.m., at City Hall Council Chambers, with a resolution to approve the City of Batavia Deer Management Plan as the last item on the Business meeting agenda.

“We have a good, solid plan in place, everybody is on board and I am very confident that this will pass,” said Council Member John Canale, speaking of the 21-page document stemming from the efforts of the five-person committee that worked with city leaders and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation officials.

Canale said that he agrees with a pair of recommendations not in the draft of the plan presented at last month’s Council meeting as they specifically address liability and safety issues -- aspects of the plan deemed as priorities.

The changes, spelled out in an Aug. 4 memo from Acting City Manager Rachael Tabelski, are as follows:

-- Nobody other than city employees who qualify for the program will be allowed to hunt in areas 4 and 5, which are predominantly city-owned parcels located near the wastewater treatment plant and yard waste station.

-- While supporting approval of the plan, “all activities related to (its) implementation” will be prohibited “until schools in Batavia are fully reopened.”

Concerning the first suggestion, the committee identified five acceptable hunting zones: (area 1) parcel north of Clinton Street; (area 2) land in the Naramore Drive area and north; (area 3) property west of State Street (in vicinity of BOCES) and proceeding north from Lambert Park; (area 4) Route 98, south of Walnut Street area; and (area 5) Law Street area stretching almost to Kibbe Park.

Where private property is involved, hunting will be permitted only after the landowner signs a cooperation agreement form. But, in the case of hunting on city property, Canale said that “comes under a different umbrella” when liability is considered.

“That will come up in the discussion on Monday, I am sure of that,” he said.

On the second recommendation, the Batavia City School District previously announced that it will be going with a “hybrid” reopening schedule – students are in school some days and are learning remotely on other days.

Safety is the Cornerstone Element

In the memo, Tabelski wrote that “many students will be home between two and five days a week for remote learning attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic reopening protocol. As you are aware, safety of the community is the cornerstone element of the plan and explained in detail in section 6, safety considerations.”

Canale said he is the one who brought the Batavia school situation to her attention.

“I am concerned about hunting during school hours, as is the committee which set it up to hunt only on days and times when school is in session,” Canale said. “Both of these changes have everything to do with liability and safety at this point.”

He said hunting may not start until after the first of the year, effectively wiping out Plan A, which allows for archery-only hunting from Oct. 1 through mid-December in accordance with the NYS hunting season.

Canale noted that Plan B and Plan C grants extended archery-only and extended archery-only using bait, respectively, from Jan. 2 through March 31. Both of those plans would require Deer Damage permits from the DEC.

Nephew: 'Something has Gone Haywire'

Deer Committee Member Russell Nephew, who reached out to The Batavian on Thursday night, said his group is upset over what he called a breakdown in communication over the past three weeks. According to Nephew, the committee was not informed of any potential changes.

“Something has gone haywire. We seemed to have been left out of the loop,” said Nephew, who said he was speaking on behalf of fellow members Samuel DiSalvo, Fred Gundell, Gus Galliford and Kent Klotzbach.

Nephew said he tried to set up another committee meeting with city management but was unsuccessful and telephoned Canale for an update but did not receive a return call. He also said an Aug. 1 deadline for hunting tags has been missed, although there had been talk of a special Council meeting to expedite the process.

“The bad thing about this is you’re going behind closed doors with the city attorney and not involving the deer committee, which has done all this work for about nine months. And you go and just not add language, you changed it,” he said. “If that type of thing would have happened with (former City Manager) Marty Moore, he would have called us all in, and said ‘Hey, I want to go over this with you. This is why we want to do this and how do you feel about it?’ ”

Canale said he is taking responsibility for the misunderstanding.

“I didn’t get back to Russ, but I didn’t realize that he was waiting for a return call,” Canale said. “We have worked well together and talked numerous times … and I had planned to call him this weekend. I am the liaison – the go-between (the committee and City Council) and I have always told Russ that I’m your man.”

Tabelski 'Thrown into the Process'

He also defended Tabelski, pointing out that she was “thrown into the process at the tail end, and had a difficult task of getting acclimated and trying to act in his (Moore) place as city manager.”

Canale has publicly praised the committee – “It was an experience that I never had in my eight years (on Council),” he said – but explained that now the ball is in the city’s court, so to speak.

“We’ve come to where the legalese has to be interjected into this plan,” he said. “If Moore was still here, he would be the one making these changes along with the DEC and city attorney. I understand how the committee may feel the way they do, but the new acting city manager has done what had to be done.”

Nephew also said he believed the committee was not going to be invited to a follow-up meeting scheduled for 9 a.m. Aug. 13.

Canale said Tabelski sent an email on July 25 about the meeting to him along with City Attorney George Van Nest and Confidential Secretary Lisa Casey, “but only to see if we were OK with the date and time. Once we said it was good, then another email was to be sent to the committee.”

That email was sent from Casey to committee members on July 28 – the day after Nephew emailed Casey notifying her that he had learned about the meeting. Nephew provided the emails to The Batavian.

All Have to Pass the Test

Getting back to the provision that only city employees will be able to hunt on the two city property areas, Nephew said they will have to pass a test – hitting a target five consecutive times. He also said the committee takes exception to the fact that members of the 12-club Genesee County Federation of Sportsmen will be left out.

“The plan puts the sportsmen at the top of the list,” he said. “We went to the clubs because that’s where the experienced hunters are – they have to have at least five years’ experience. We all agreed to that. Now, they won’t be able to hunt Sections 4 and 5 unless they work for the city.”

And he said he’s not completely in agreement with a shutdown of the program due to the school schedule.

“If school is in session, then the other kids have to be at home, remotely on the computer at home, and if they are, that’s like being in school – not out running around,” he said. “They’re at home. They can’t be running around because the school is going to know.”

Nephew said not being part of the discussion hurts more than the changes themselves.

“If they had come to us and given us reasons and things of that nature, we’re not hard to get along with,” he said. “We probably would have said, ‘Well, if that’s what the city wants, we’ll have to go along with it' -- but that’s not what we came up with.”

July 14, 2020 - 9:39am

nephew_and_disalvo_1.jpg

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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