Animal rights supporters want to tape sharpshooters in Summit metro parks
SHARK maintains that the deer were being mistreated - An animal rights group is seeking a federal court order to stop the killing of deer in Summit County's metro parks until the group is allowed to videotape it.
The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in Akron by the Geneva, Ill., group Showing Animals Respect and Kindness, or SHARK.
Named as defendants are the Metro Parks, Serving Summit County; park rangers Dave Rankin and Justin Simon; White Buffalo, Inc., the company hired by the parks to conduct the deer kill; and Connecticut resident Anthony DiNicola, an employee of White Buffalo.
The dispute between SHARK and the park district began last winter when the parks hired sharpshooters to kill deer in Cascade Valley, Sand Run, Silver Creek and Munroe Falls parks to reduce the size of the herd. At that time, 119 deer were killed.
The lawsuit states that on Feb. 22, SHARK placed digital video cameras in three of the parks to obtain footage of the deer killing with the intention of distributing the video publicly.
The suit claims that Rankin, Simon and other Metro Parks employees seized at least six of the video cameras and other equipment on Feb. 29, which were not returned to SHARK until March 30.
The suit claims that the day after the equipment was seized, Rankin and Simon gave DiNicola access to it. When it was finally returned to SHARK, the equipment was damaged and the digital images on six of the recorders had been damaged or erased.
Park officials could not be reached for comment on the lawsuit. that the animals were shot and then dragged or suffocated with plastic bags over their heads while they were still moving.
Park officials have denied those claims.
They said the plastic bags were placed over the animals' heads to keep blood from draining onto the ground.
On Nov. 2, SHARK asked Metro Parks for permission to videotape this season's deer kill. Permission was not granted.
SHARK claims its constitutional rights are being violated, and it is seeking a court order to stop the killing until the process can be videotaped.
Last month, SHARK asked park officials to investigate the damage, but they declined to take the action.
Park commissioners maintained that prosecutors in Akron and Cuyahoga Falls previously had determined not to pursue criminal charges against park officials for the damaged equipment, and no new information had surfaced that could change that decision.
The case has been assigned to Magistrate George Limbert.
It seeks an unspecified amount of money damages.