Mt. Lebanon approves archery, trapping to cull deer population
After years of competing pleas to curb deer damage and spare residents from hunting in their backyards and parks, the Mt. Lebanon commissioners approved a deer management plan Monday night that will lean on archery and trapping to cull the deer population.
The commissioners voted unanimously to approve the plan and an application to the Pennsylvania Game Commission that, if granted, will allow the municipality to move toward its goal of cutting deer-vehicle collisions from an average of 45 per year to about 22 per year.
“No more waiting. The time is now,” said Commission President Kristen Linfante.
The plan, prepared by consultant J. Merlin Benner of Wildlife Specialists in Wellsboro, Tioga County, calls for culling as many as 200 deer per year at a cost of up to $80,000 until the vehicle collision goal has been reached, then move into a “stabilization and maintenance phase” of culling about 100 per year.
If the commission gives the go-ahead Dec. 9, the initial culling will take place with eight to 10 archers drawn from local police, firefighters and public works employees. The hunting will take place on the golf course and perhaps in McNeilly Park, which is owned by Mt. Lebanon but undeveloped.
“Given the limited number of areas, I think that between police, fire and public works, we could come up with enough to do this,” said police Chief Coleman McDonough.
Mt. Lebanon is applying to the Game Commission for a broader archery program and the use of “trap-and-bolt” methods that can take place on public or private land with the homeowner’s consent. With trapping, deer are lured into a corral with bait, shut in with an automatic gate, then killed with a captive-bolt gun to their heads similar to those used in slaughterhouses.
The commission will then submit a second application for using surgical sterilization to control the deer population, though Benner’s report noted that Pennsylvania has never approved it before.
Mt. Lebanon used sharpshooters from the Department of Agriculture in the 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons, culling 69 deer the first year and 146 in the second. But concerns about the safety and cost of the program scuttled it after two years, and divided commissions couldn’t reach a consensus to restart a culling program until now.
Matthew Santoni is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5625.