Lebo zeroing in on controlling deer

Published Oct 11, 2013 at 10:34 am (Updated Oct 11, 2013 at 10:34 am)

Sharpshooting or controlled hunting would be cheap, effective and safe means of controlling Mt. Lebanon’s deer population, according to a presentation at the Oct. 8 commission meeting.

Jody Maddock, a deer management technician with White Buffalo, presented several different options for deer control within the municipality. The information was based largely on a report prepared by Dr. Anthony DeNicola, president of White Buffalo. According to DeNicola’s data there are between 400 and 500 deer living in Mt. Lebanon. That’s about 70 to 80 per square mile. Risks associated with large deer populations include public health hazards such as Lyme disease and vehicle collisions.

According to Maddock, methods for controlling deer populations range from uncontrolled hunting to controlled hunting, sharpshooting, euthanization and contraception or sterilization. Of these options, he said, hunting and sharpshooting are least costly and most efficient.

With sharpshooting, for example, deer are lured to specific areas with bait, then killed with a single bullet to the brain. The cost per deer would be somewhere between $200 and $400. Maddock said the downsides to this approach included negative public perception and legal limits on where firearms could be discharged. He also took pains to emphasize safety precautions.

“You shoot only in designated areas,” he explained. “In about two percent of cases something may go wrong. You could have an animal that requires a second shot or an animal that roams.”

Maddock added that he could not recall a single safety incident involving a sharpshooter.

Sterilization, by contrast, involves tranquilizing deer and then having a veterinarian perform surgery. This technique would not involve firearms and could also reduce the long-term costs associated with managing the deer population. In the short term, however, it would be far more expensive, on the order of $1,000 per animal.

Maddock advised commissioners to employ multiple techniques for the first couple years, then switch over to sterilization once the deer population had been reduced to a manageable level.

“Tony strongly encourages that you come up with goals and desired outcomes first. Then look at the options available to you,” he concluded.

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