There aren’t more deer in Portage County, there’s less deer habitat, official says

Photo by Divide By Zero

So many deer are roaming around Portage County, it almost seems as though they are becoming pets, with residents voicing concern that the population must be ballooning.

But according to officials, that’s not the case. 

Ron Gardner, a compliance officer for the City of Kent Animal Control, said the deer population may be a tad higher than normal in Kent, but it’s nothing out of the ordinary.

“Deer are getting so domesticated where they’re not really afraid of humans anymore,” he said. “They’re not the wild, elusive animal that everybody thinks you have to sneak up on, because they’re getting so used to the human population.”

One resident wrote to The Portager that the deer seem to be everywhere and “running amok.” 

“I’ve lived in Kent for 40-plus years and have never seen anything like this,” they said.
“Driving yesterday on Seasons Road from Streetsboro to Kent, I saw at least 30 deer — singles, doubles, small groups.”

One of the reasons for this is that so much of the deer’s natural resources have been taken away from them by, for example, bulldozing forests to build shopping malls and housing.

“The deer have to adapt and move on,” Gardner said. “And most of them are just adapting by going through people’s yards, on people’s private property.”

Many people in Kent have also taken to putting out corn and other food to attract animals. Gardner always advises against this, saying the deer can cause property damage or ruin your landscaping. 

In particular, they love to tear up hostas and other leafy or flowering plants, or even tomatoes and vegetables. Some residents complain, Gardner said.

“Recently over near Morris Road I had two people stop and tell me how much damage the deer are doing to their gardens,” he said. “I think it’s just an easy meal.”

Popular hangouts for deer in Kent are any small patch of woods, swampland on the west side of the city, and the woods along the Cuyahoga River that runs through town. Kent streets that deer commonly cross include Middlebury Road, Hudson Road, Allerton Street and Morris Road by Kent State.

“Drivers should know that once one deer crosses the road there are usually some other deer behind it, so you should be patient,” Gardner said. “Surprisingly, we don’t have a lot of car-deer accidents. Most happen at night.”

Deer are protective of their young, but if you stay away they aren’t dangerous. Gardner said he’s never had any report of a deer attacking someone. But they might stomp their feet and snort at you. 

“I wish there was a solution to how we can live together with deer, but unfortunately everybody wants to build more houses, and that takes more territory that the deer are usually living in,” Gardner said. “I’ll drive through Kent doing my job, and I’ll see a deer walking through somebody’s front yard in the middle of the day like it owns the place. I think taking their habitats really does a toll on where they’ve had to adapt living with us.”

Roger Gordon
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