There is a unique element to the Mt. Lebanon deer culling debate that has not received much attention. People, particularly those that do not live in Mt. Lebanon that are protesting against culling, need to be aware that Mt. Lebanon is a walking community. We also have no school buses.
The morning hours, when Mt. Lebanon children are walking to school and parents are driving to work, are a time of day when deer are most active. Last fall, during rutting season, around 7:30 a.m., a doe closely being chased by a buck dashed out from between two neighborhood houses, almost collided with my two boys who were walking to school, bolted across Main Entrance Drive, and took off.
Living in Mt. Lebanon, you become sensitive to the possibility of vehicle-pedestrian collisions. When my boys shared their story with me, I became concerned about what could have happened during this busy time of the morning if a car had been coming down the street while the deer were unexpectedly crossing, and the driver had instinctively reacted by swerving to miss the deer, and had plowed into my children. Or, what if the car hit one of the deer and knocked it into one of my kids.
The PA Game Commission indicates that “under favorable living conditions, adult does can produce triplets, yearlings can produce twins and fawns can be bred and give birth during their first year of life. In the absence of predation or hunting, this kind of reproduction can result in a deer herd doubling its size in one year.” I believe this to be true as, I have been witnessing the deer population in Mt. Lebanon explode. And with the increase in deer population has come an increase in deer-vehicle collisions. The laws of unintended consequences and probabilities would suggest that at some point, one of these deer-vehicle collisions is also going to become a deer-vehicle-pedestrian collision and will involve one of our children walking to school or riding a bike, or perhaps someone’s parent or grandparent.
Culling deer, while controversial, is the only method that has been proven to be effective in reducing and controlling deer populations. For Mt. Lebanon, the deer overpopulation problem has become a safety issue. Unless something is done now, the problem is going to continue to get worse and with it the increase in the likelihood of an unintended human tragedy.
Many thanks to the Mt. Lebanon Commissioners for acknowledging the deer overpopulation problem and having the courage to come up with a compromise solution that takes into consideration as many resident concerns as possible.
Euclid B. Noble