Deer cull in Mt. Lebanon, Pa. annoys, upsets readers
We have heard from a number of readers who are unhappy with the deer cull that is occurring in Mt. Lebanon. At great cost, the affluent suburban Pittsburgh community has hired a Tioga County-based company to use bait to lure up to 150 deer into corrals and then shoot them with silenced rifles.
Mt. Lebanon's deer-control program, reportedly the first of its kind in Pennsylvania, was given a permit by the Game Commission to accomplish the cull aimed at reducing an out-of-control deer population that is leading residents to complain about lawn and landscaping damage, car accidents and the risk of Lyme disease.
Even though the venison from the culled deer will be given to needy folks through Hunters Sharing the Harvest, many believe the deer should instead be captured and transported to public lands in Pennsylvania’s Northern Tier, where deer numbers have been depleted in the last 15 years or so.
“How wrong it is to lure animals into a pen to kill them for an exorbitant fee when the more simple solution would be to lure them into that same pen and then into a truck and move them to an area where the population of deer is not a problem,” wrote one letter writer to Pennsylvania Outdoor News. “We are blessed in this state to have many areas like the Allegheny National Forest and large tracts of state game lands where these deer could live.”
“I don't see how the Game Commission can allow the culling of the deer herd anywhere in the commonwealth,” another wrote. “We hunters would love to see more deer on the game lands and state forests in the northcentral region. Why can't the Game Commission relocate the deer instead of letting them be culled?”
At the recent Great American Outdoor Show in Harrisburg, a number of people asked Game Commission officials at the agency’s booth to address the Mt. Lebanon deer cull and the possibility of relocating deer. One was told that deer are not as easy to relocate as elk and that deer go "kind of crazy after relocation,” and that half of relocated deer would die in the process.
We have been told the agency will not consider moving deer around the state with chronic wasting disease already present in free-ranging deer, and that the cost would be prohibitive for little return. But the reality is that the agency's deer managers don’t want to see more deer in the northcentral forests.
But enough people are talking about this issue now that I believe it is time for the commission to address it and explain in a public way why it will not get involved in relocating deer. The agency should do this because Mt. Lebanon is not the first and will not be the last community that needs to cull deer. With our state’s urban deer populations burgeoning, this issue is not going away.