Mt. Lebanon aims to cut number of deer collisions in half

Published Jan 16, 2014 at 11:24 am (Updated Jan 16, 2014 at 11:24 am)

The Mt. Lebanon commission decided to target a 50 percent reduction in auto accidents involving deer at its Jan. 14 meeting. The municipality aims to achieve this over the course of three to five years. Commissioners based the target off of research from commissioner Kelly Fraasch, who presented data from several communities across the United States, with a particular focus on Michigan.

Commissioner Fraasch found most communities that implemented deer management programs saw a 15-20 percent reduction in collisions each year. She said some areas saw as much as a 50 percent reduction in a single year, but that such drastic reductions were rare.

According to figures from police chief Coleman McDonough, Mt. Lebanon residents reported 40 such accidents in 2012 and 43 in 2013. McDonough emphasized that these are minimum figures. “These numbers do not include probable collisions,” he said. “If we find a dead deer in a yard with a broken leg, we do not assume a vehicle collision was the cause.”

Commissioners agreed it would be easiest to focus on vehicle collisions, as the metric for deer management as definitions of other deer-related incidents vary wildly across communities.

The commission further decided to pursue a two-pronged strategy going forward. On one hand, it will prepare for a community forum regarding different options for deer management, including culling, sterilization and associated costs. Parallel to that, commissioners hope to launch a major community education program.

“I have seen a huge hole in education in terms of feeding deer,” Fraasch said. “I have had residents complain about deer while literally throwing apples or corn cobs out the door to them. It seems silly, but it’s a huge issue.”

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