YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — The courtroom was jammed Thursday with advocates for and against a planned deer hunt at Mill Creek MetroParks.

The issue to be decided: Whether or not directors have the legal authority to cull the herd, including the use of USDA sharpshooters.

Trumbull County Commissioner Denny Malloy is also a regional director of the wildlife group known as Whitetails Unlimited.

“‘Whitetails Unlimited’: That’s just legalized government poaching,” Malloy said.

He said that while hunting is a legitimate way to manage the deer population, he disagrees with the park’s plans.

“That makes my stomach turn,” Malloy said. “There’s no tradition with that. There’s no sport to that. That is basically calling an exterminator to get rid of the deer.”

Local veterinarian Donald Allen is one of those filing the suit, claiming the best course is allowing Mother Nature to take over.

“When man steps in to interfere with Mother Nature, he generally screws up,” Allen said.

The deer hunting program is set to begin this weekend in certain sections of park land, but several witnesses worry hunters won’t adhere to the boundaries.

“I mean, this map — nobody’s going to follow this, I’m sorry. Nobody’s going to follow it,” said Kathryn Hamilton, who opposed the planned hunt.

Park directors say Mill Creek park is the only facility of its kind in Ohio without a deer management program, and those involved in the scheduled hunt say the deer population here is now threatening vegetation all around the park district.

The park’s natural resources manager Nick Derico claims not managing the deer population would be irresponsible.

“MetroParks is charged to preserve, and conserve, and protect the lands within our holdings — that includes all species of plants and wildlife,” said Derico.

A decision in the case is expected before the weekend.