WHEELING, W.Va. — The recent announcement of an urban deer culling at Oglebay Park has gotten mixed reviews from the community, and now West Virginia Record reports a Wheeling law firm has submitted FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests to officials with city and state agencies regarding the hunt.
Josh Miller with Toriseva Law sent requests to R. Gregory McDermott, the Wheeling Park Commission chairman, and Brett McMillion, Director of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources.
The firm is requesting documents and information related to the hunt scheduled for November 6-8.
Teresa Toriseva with Toriseva Law recently told West Virginia Record that hunting wildlife has always been part of West Virginia, but the deer at Oglebay have been hand-fed for years, trusting humans, and are not wild.
West Virginia Record states that Toriseva said she doesn’t know if legal action will follow but that the firm wants a better understanding of why the planned hunt is happening.
Toriseva tells the news outlet that the slaughter of tamed deer on recreational public land should not be undertaken without other less cruel options being tried.
Park officials announced the culling after it was determined that the deer population was five times higher than the optimal amount per square mile. The DNR states that this overpopulation presents a safety concern for parks and deer.
West Virginia Record states that overpopulated animals are more susceptible to disease, malnutrition, and poor health. Dangerous interactions with humans, such as vehicle accidents, are also more likely.
According to the news outlet, in the FOIA requests, the firm requests copies of the survey studies, reports, and any compiled data related to the number of deer in Oglebay Park. They also request all information related to the scheduled culling, information on public safety, and plans to verify potential participants in the hunt.
The planned hunt is limited in the number of applicants chosen through a lottery system. The participants in the three-day hunt will be given a zone each day, and each hunter will only be allowed to use bows from a tree stand.
The park commission states that the affected areas will be closed to the public during the hunt, and hunters will not be allowed to stalk or track deer within 300 feet of personal property.
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