Based on information obtained by resident questionnaires and observations by SHPD officers and the City’s deer culling contractor, there is an overabundance of deer in our city. Suburban areas, especially Shaker Heights, provide high-quality, high calorie and easily accessible foods in the form of gardens, ornamental plantings, and fertilized lawns, while nearby woodlands offer daytime refuge. The richness of plant species is higher in residential areas than in wooded habitats. Suburban areas are free of hunting and natural predation. Deer have a high reproductive potential and populations increase quickly.
- There are negative impacts associated with an overabundance of or excessive browsing by deer:
- Native plant and wildlife populations, habitat quality, and ecosystem processes suffer.
- There is a decline in biodiversity (the number and variety of species of living organisms) in natural areas and a reduction in the ability of native plants to survive and reproduce. Repeated removal of stems, leaves, and flowering parts of plants reduces the height, vigor and reproduction of plants.
- There are negative impacts to wildlife that needs woodland understory for forage, nesting, and cover. Significant reduction in vegetation that birds use for foraging, escaping predators and nesting also occurs.
- Damage to landscape and garden vegetation occurs from deer browsing and antler rubbing.
- Individual deer health declines with reduction in the availability of forage.
- The spread of disease in both deer (e.g., chronic wasting disease) and humans (e.g., Lyme disease) increases.
Since 2016 a majority of Shaker residents who have responded to an annual questionnaire indicate that they have concerns about deer in Shaker and that they would like to see a decrease in the number of deer.