Caroline MacGregor Published

Wheeling Residents Take Oglebay Park Deer Culling Dispute To Court


A group of 14 Wheeling residents has filed a petition to stop the culling of deer next month at Oglebay Park. 

The petition, filed on behalf of the plaintiffs by Toriseva Law, names Oglebay Park, the Oglebay Park Foundation and the Wheeling Park Commission as defendants in the case. 

The dispute centers around the “scientific basis” behind a recent West Virginia Division of Natural Resources study that park officials are using to justify the culling of deer at Oglebay Park. 

According to the DNR, the park’s deer population is five times per square mile what it should be, giving rise to concerns for the safety of people and the herd.

Plaintiffs said park officials have marketed and benefitted from the handfeeding of deer and question the DNR’s findings. A 2017 survey by West Virginia University Extension Wildlife specialist Sheldon Owen was cited in the petition.

“This survey consisted of driving determined routes within selected areas and visibility counting deer,” the petition states. “The effective strip was 156 yards. This survey was conducted in excess of six years ago and consisted of predetermined routes and areas.”

“This survey could show there may have been an over-congregation of deer in the 156 yards of sampled area of handfeeding, but not necessarily an overpopulation throughout the entire 2,000 acres.”

In addition to seeking an injunction to stop the hunt, the petition requests the court to enforce no-feeding laws at the park, claiming baiting and hand feeding are creating the very problem the culling intends to address.

The petition claims the defendants did nothing to stop the illegal handfeeding of the deer but have taken no action to consider “less violent and drastic measures to address any possible overpopulation.”

Brooke County Circuit Court Judge Jason Cuomo has scheduled a hearing for next Friday, Oct. 13.

Toriseva Law is an underwriter of West Virginia Public Broadcasting.