Pennsylvania communities must try hunting before getting deer-cull permits

One of the issues that has consistently rankled readers of Pennsylvania Outdoor News over the years has been the Game Commission’s awarding of deer-cull permits to urban communities that don’t allow bowhunting.

Communities using deer-cull permits have been making headlines in recent years, perhaps most notably western Pennsylvania’s Mount Lebanon, that has controversially used contractors and sharp shooters to kill deer. Distaste for hunting and hunters has led most urban enclaves to eschew hunting as a means to deal with their deer-overpopulation problems.

Despite long paying lip service to requiring communities to allow bowhunting to address deer problems, Game Commission officials have stopped short of actually forcing housing developments, homeowners associations and communities to allow hunting first, before granting permits for deer culling.

That will change if a regulation the Pennsylvania Board of Commissioners passed unanimously at their April 5 meeting is approved again at their July meeting, as expected. It’s an initiative new President Commissioner Brian Hoover, of Delaware County especially, has been pushing.

The issue is being addressed now because of a much-publicized cull carried out by sharpshooters from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. They were hired by the Saw Creek Estates Community Association – representing 3,000 property owners in the 2,000-acre gated community near Bushkill in Pike County – to remove 300 deer that were reportedly causing increased automobile accidents and damage to plantings and landscaping. 

Two people complained about the cull in testimony at the Game Commission’s January meeting. It was reported in a local newspaper that corn piles were located in 17 locations, attracting deer from both near and far.

“This time of year, there are deer coming for miles to get to those bait piles,” said a board member of the nearby Saw Creek Hunting and Fishing Association.

Local sportsmen are angry with the Saw Creek Estates community, but they are angry with the Game Commission, too, which approved the community’s deer management program, along with the deer cull permit.

“The Game Commission is giving these permits,” one told a local newspaper reporter. “Instead of permits, they should be giving citations.”

“The anti-feeding policy isn’t strict enough,” another said.

All of this got the attention of the game commisioners. And the action they are taking will affect communities all over the state.


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