Mt. Lebanon creeps toward decision on deer solution

Published Aug 26, 2014 at 9:45 am (Updated Aug 26, 2014 at 9:45 am)

The Mt. Lebanon commission will spend up to $10,000 to develop a more detailed deer management plan, according to discussion at the Aug. 25 meeting. Deer have vexed the commission for years now, as commissioners seek to reduce deer-related vehicle accidents and cut down on resident complaints.

Discussion at the Aug. 25 meeting centered on the possibility of allocating $40,000 in unassigned fund balance to deer sterilization.

Commissioner Kelly Fraasch has long expressed interest in deer sterilization as a safe and humane deer management option. She said Tony DeNicola, president of wildlife management consultancy White Buffalo, told her new research indicated a community may have to cull 90 percent of its deer population in the initial effort. Otherwise, breeding may soon offset any population reduction.

Commission president Kristen Linfante expressed serious doubts that sterilization alone could be effective. She said she, too, recently spoke with DeNicola, and that he stated the $40,000 of fund balance under consideration would have minimal impact on Mt. Lebanon’s deer population.

“He is estimating we have 500 deer despite the low numbers from our last survey,” Linfante said. “These surveys can have a margin of error of up to 80 percent in some cases. If we have 500 deer, even if we sterilize all of them, we still have 500 deer.”

Commissioners John Bendel and Steve Silverman, meanwhile, felt that to settle on specific deer management methods now would be putting the proverbial cart before the horse.

Silverman did not feel the commission had enough information to assign funds at this time. “I would like to see pricing first,” he said. “Then it’s going to be a process of determining what we are willing to spend to achieve our goals.”

John Bendel echoed Silverman’s statements. “It seems we always end up discussing the end result without having a plan,” he said.

Tom Kelly, Mt. Lebanon’s public works director, said it would likely take about three months to develop more detailed estimates for different deer management options.

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