The town of Indian Hill, Ohio reported just eight deer-automobile accidents last year, a reduction of over 80 percent from the town’s 1997 historic high. Residents and Police Chief Chuck Schlie said that the town’s bowhunting program, which was implemented roughly 10 years ago, played a large role in keeping deer numbers low.
“It has helped control the herd and has lowered accidents,” Schlie told The Community Press. “Prior to the program it wasn’t uncommon to have 30 to 40 accidents a year.”
Schlie also highlighted an increased awareness of deer as a factor in the low number of crashes in recent years.
More and more towns are turning to bowhunting to control burgeoning whitetail deer populations as an alternative to sharpshooters or more exotic methods like immunocontraception. Large deer populations endanger motorists and can cause forest degeneration, spelling trouble for the animals in the future. Although many towns have concerns about safety, some now support an urban bowhunting season as a cheap, effective, and non-wasteful method of keeping deer numbers low.
“Across the state, the areas where we have the biggest deer problems are around the urban areas,” said Ohio Division of Wildlife biologist Dan Huss said back in 2005. “The reason is that urban areas have become giant deer refuges due to local ordinances restricting hunting. A lot of people believe that deer are moving into the cities, which isn’t true. Instead, cities are incorporating and annexing areas of deer habitat that are suddenly in areas where hunting is against the law.”
Some critics of urban bowhunting voice concerns about safety and the effectiveness of hunters in reducing deer. A 2012 study by two researchers at the American Museum of Natural History found that bowhunters are capable of reducing deer numbers by 20 to 70 percent in certain circumstances, but hunter effectiveness is largely dependent on the enthusiasm of sportsmen. The more experienced bowhunters likely to climb into a treestand, the lower deer numbers will be.
Last season, Indian Hill hunters harvested roughly 238 deer. According to the Ohio Department of Transportation, the state saw 20,993 deer-related accidents in 2012.