Residents Can Prevent Issues Related to Wildlife

Posted on 7/6/2017

Column originally featured in ThisWeek Community News on July 3, 2017

The police department and city officials often receive calls throughout the year about domestic and wild animal issues.

I am in a unique position in my day job as the chief of police and in my civilian capacity as a state licensed wild animal control operator, and therefore I would like to share some thoughts on common issues and solutions.

Your neighborhood provides the perfect environment to sustain, and in some cases, increase the population of wild animals. First, decks, sheds, overgrowth vegetation, big den trees and even storm water sewers provide shelter. Second, farmers and gardeners provide additional sustenance for animals and unsecured garbage becomes a food source. However, the number one suburban food source for wild animals is bird food.

If you have a bird feeder, you have an animal feeder. The spilled seed attracts mice, rats, squirrels, skunks, groundhogs, rabbits, raccoons, opossums and deer; these, in turn, attract foxes and coyotes. Life is a big circle and it happens around your bird feeders.

If you feed your pet outside, you are feeding wildlife. The exposure to secretions or excretions — such as saliva, urine or feces — provides the perfect way to spread a plethora of zoonotic disease organisms including fungal, bacterial, viral, parasitic, protozoal and other things such as fleas and ticks. A zoonotic disease is one that can be transmitted between humans and animals.

Dennis Murphy

I spoke with a resident who feared that children might be exposed to wild animal diseases and at the top of her list were rabies, listeriosis and leptospirosis. In Ohio, the most common animals to have rabies are bats, raccoons, skunks, foxes and coyotes. Bats have been the only animal to test positive for rabies in Franklin County over the last 30 years.

The police are often called when nocturnal animals are seen during the day acting sick. Typically, it is raccoons with distemper requiring euthanization. People cannot contract distemper, but unvaccinated pets and other animals are susceptible to this highly contagious, and often fatal, disease.

According to veterinarians I have spoken with, the biggest health risks to people, especially children, is from feral cats.

There are individuals, who may or may not own the cats, who decide to feed and/or make litter boxes or shelters available. Regardless of the motivation or intent, Gahanna City Ordinance 505.09(b) states: “Any person, who allows any animal habitually to remain, be lodged, or fed within any dwelling, building, yard or enclosure, which he occupies or owns, shall be considered as harboring such animal.”

505.01(a) “No person shall own, have under his care or be in control of any domestic animal, including cattle, horses, swine, sheep, goats, dogs, cats or poultry, which is at large in the city. If a domestic animal, as defined herein, is at large in the city, then the person who is the owner or who normally has care or control of the animal shall be deemed to have violated this section.”

As a homeowner, you should be concerned with free-ranging cats who decide to use your flower bed, garden or your children’s playground as a litter box. Exposure to contaminated sand or soil can increase the risk of contracting diseases spread by cats. These include bartonellosis (cat scratch disease), salmonellosis, cryptosporidiosis, giardiasis, toxoplasmosis, ringworm and intestinal parasites such as roundworms and hookworms.

In Gahanna, your police department is equipped to handle emergency situations where animals pose an immediate threat to people. We investigate and address violations of the law. We do not have an animal control officer and rely upon the Franklin County Dog Warden to handle all dog bites and loose dogs that we cannot catch. Franklin County does not handle cat or wild nuisance animal complaints.

We work closely with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, which has regulatory authority over all wild animals in Ohio. They do not handle nuisance animal complaints but maintain a list of licensed wild animal control operators. These are private companies and are hired by the homeowner to provide a service.

Capital Area Humane Society will accept stray cats for a surrender fee.

So what can homeowners do to assist with this problem? You have several options to eliminate the conflict in the first place.

  • Remove all food sources.
  • Prevent access beneath your deck and sheds.
  • Install a chimney cap, cut back or lift the fringe of vegetation and trees.
  • Coordinate efforts with neighbors or homeowners associations.

Despite your best efforts, you may still experience problems. You can trap the problem critters, but Ohio law states that it shall be unlawful to fail to euthanize, or release on site, any nuisance raccoon, skunk, beaver, coyote, fox, or opossum that is captured, trapped or taken. By law, you can only release limited animals on the property of another with their permission. There are also laws on trap sizes, trap criteria, required tagging, species requirements and monitoring.

During my careers, I have witnessed far too many grievous wounds inflicted upon innocents by what many would describe as “harmless” animals. Similarly, I have seen an equal number of individuals who have contracted serious, and at times, life-threatening diseases from domestic and wild animals. We need to work together to prevent these senseless tragedies.

Volunteers have Big Roles in Strong Communities

Posted on 7/13/2017

Column originally featured in ThisWeek Community News on June 13, 2017

 

Gahanna Spotlight: Volunteers Have Big Roles in Strong Communities

By Tom Kneeland

Mayor of City of Gahanna

Gahanna is home to many wonderful service organizations that have been instrumental in upholding our most valued community traditions.

As I reflect on their many contributions, I am grateful for their time and commitment to making our community better. As someone who is actively involved in service organizations, I understand firsthand the challenges many of them face when it comes to attracting and retaining volunteers.

Growing up, I was influenced to serve by various people and groups to give back, in some fashion, to my community. I can vividly remember the Gahanna Lions Club selling barbecue chicken dinners at different events, raising money to pay for our fireworks. I also remember its members volunteering to mentor youth in our community.

Influenced by the Gahanna Lions Club and other community organizations, I was initially inspired to join the Mifflin Township Volunteer Fire Department under the leadership of Chief Jack Slevey. This experience greatly shaped my passion and purpose to serve my community and now, 40 years later, as I look back at the volunteer opportunities afforded to me, I feel a real sense of accomplishment.

In the last 20 years, many of our service organizations have witnessed a significant drop in their membership.

Tom Kneeland Since taking office in 2016, one of my commitments has been to re-engage and re-energize our service organizations.

Each month, I meet with leaders from these organizations to find out how we, as a city can help them continue to grow and thrive.

One of the challenges I constantly hear about is the lack of new members for these organizations.

Perhaps this decline can be attributed to the emergence of new online communities, possibly a different view and philosophy among the younger generations regarding civic groups, and their view of these organizations that were structured many years ago.

Whatever the case may be, I want to encourage Gahanna residents to get engaged and re-invest in our community.

There are many benefits to volunteering, including the ability to solve problems, improve the lives of others and the chance to strengthen our community.

Boxing great Muhammad Ali once said, “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.”

I would like to encourage you to get involved in our community. Whether it’s one or two hours a month, your community needs you!

There are many opportunities for parents and our youth to volunteer or participate in projects and activities like helping the Gahanna Lions Club build a float for our annual Independence Day parade, volunteering in the food pantry for Gahanna Residents in Need or participating in a community cleanup through Make Gahanna Yours to preserve the beauty of our city.

To discover your passion or to get involved in your community, I encourage you to visit OneGahanna.com — a new website created to provide an easy to access directory of civic and service organizations. The site features volunteer opportunities available throughout our community.

Together, we can preserve the legacy of our service organizations and inspire our youth to give their time for generations to come.

Social Media Guide

Whether you are on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or YouTube, you can join the conversation about the City of Gahanna and our community. Below are a few guidelines to be mindful of when posting on the City’s social media platforms:

In order to maintain a respectful interaction on the City’s social media platforms, we encourage all content to:

  • Stay Focused.  All viewpoints are welcome, but comments should remain relevant to the social media platforms maintained by the City of Gahanna.
  • Be Respectful.​  Personal attacks, profanity, and aggressive language is prohibited.  Instigating arguments in a disrespectful manner is also prohibited on the City’s social media platforms.
  • Tell the truth.​  Purposefully providing false information, or the intent to mislead fans/followers is prohibited. If you have questions about information, please contact the appropriate City department or the Mayor’s office directly to get the facts before posting incorrect or misleading information on the City’s social media platforms.
  • No spam.​  Repeated posting of identical or very similar content advertising or promoting services or products on the City’s social media platforms is prohibited and is subject to removal.

Content posted may be subject to deletion if it contains:

  • Partisan political views or views of a political organization.
  • Commercial endorsements.
  • Discriminatory, racist, offensive, obscene, threatening, inflammatory, unlawful, or otherwise objectionable statements, language or content.
  • Content that advocates illegal activity.
  • Content that infringes on copyright or trademarks.
  • Personally identifiable medical information.

Explanation of deletion may be provided.

We reserve the right to block or delete offenders of this policy.

Please note that the content posted by fans/followers on our social media platforms does not reflect the opinions or position of the City of Gahanna or its employees.  If you have any questions concerning the operation of any of our moderated social media platforms, please contact the Public Information Manager at information@gahanna.gov/614.342.4043

Help Us Maintain a Pollinator Habitat in Gahanna!

This past spring Mayor Tom Kneeland signed a proclamation making Gahanna a Pollinator Community. This initiative is important because pollinators are threatened with a loss of habitat and food sources. A pollinator is any animal that visits plants and moves pollen. Bees and butterflies are among the most popular pollinators, but beetles, bats, flies, hummingbirds and moths are others. Pollinators are essential for human, animal and plant survival. We can thank pollinators for one out of every three bites of food we eat. As a Pollinator Community, the City of Gahanna is taking many steps to create pollinator-friendly habitats and to help ensure the survival of vital animal species, improve regional food production and stimulate the local economy.

The City’s Department of Parks & Recreation is renovating existing flower beds and planting perennial pollinator plant species to attract and support pollinator populations. Some of the installations include gardens at McCorkle Park, Creekside Park/Plaza, the Geroux Herb Garden at City Hall, Gahanna Swimming Pool and Veteran’s Plaza. The department also continues to remove invasive species like honeysuckle, privet and grapevine so native plants have space to grow. Pollinators and native species are adapted to one another making them a natural fit for pollinators to collect pollen and nectar.

Other forthcoming initiatives include the installation and maintenance of three active bee hives at various locations throughout. Also, the City plans to landscape the newly opened roundabouts on Hamilton Road in Gahanna to create pollinator habitats.

According to City of Gahanna Parks & Recreation Horticultural Coordinator, Shannon Barnett, homeowners, too, can take practical steps to create their own pollinator habitats like planting native species with a variety of colors and a broad range of bloom times throughout the season, so there is always a pollinator food source.

“Planting herbs in your yard or cultivating a small container herb garden is a great way to support a variety of pollinators,” said Brooke Sackenheim, manager at the City of Gahanna Ohio Herb Education Center. “Many of the culinary herbs such as thyme, basil and mint are delicious for people and at the same time nourishing to bees and butterflies.”

Growing herbs such as parsley, fennel and dill can also provide food for caterpillars, thus supporting important butterfly and moth pollinators. When several people in a neighborhood grow different kinds of herbs and flowering plants, it allows pollinators to have a variety of nutrition and shelter options available to them throughout the season. Starting with one small pot of rosemary can make a big difference for several kinds of pollinators.

This fall, consider leaving tall fountain grasses rather than trimming down and leave fallen leaves in flower beds. These areas will become natural nesting habitats for pollinators like the praying mantis.

Mayor Kneeland encourages all community groups, schools, and citizens to participate in activities promoting conservation and stewardship. To learn more about supporting pollinator environments, visit www.pollinator.org.

Join the City in helping to maintain a healthy pollinator habitat in Gahanna!