To cull or not to cull: that is the question in Mt. Lebanon, Pennsylvania.
Mt. Lebanon officials have decided to put an end to the proposed plan to cull deer. This method of thinning the deer population in the Pittsburgh suburb was a highly debated topic. The plan to euthanize deer was ultimately an unsuccessful endeavor as a result of weeks of protests and fiery municipal meetings. The program was to begin in early February, but was delayed and did not begin until March 10.
The program was introduced as a solution to the high deer population causing car accidents in the area. The goal was to cull 150 of the estimated 500 deer within the community, with an end goal of reducing the amount of deer-caused vehicular crashes by 50 percent.
Wildlife Specialist was the company contracted to cull the deer, at $500 per animal. The company was not able to meet the original goal of up to 150 deer; only six deer were killed since the program started.
The failure of the plan was attributed to many factors, ultimately leading to its cancellation. One of the factors was the delayed start date. Originally, the cull was to begin in early February, but did not. The Pennsylvania Game Commission took their time with the proposal, because a situation like this had never presented itself before. Some attribute the hold-up to the processing of the permit. Due to the late start, the weather began to warm up which in turn, reduced the number of deer entering the culls looking for food.
Another reason for the cancellation was the vandalism of the culls themselves and the area surrounding them. One of the culls caught a vandal on camera wedging a stick into the corral gate mechanism. At another location, absorbent balls marinated in vile smelling chemicals were thrown about the area. In another instance, feeders were forcibly removed from the area. Angry community members also confronted contractors working on the project during the process.
Many community members disliked the culling approach for a variety of reasons. However, the main theme between different objections was that the tactic itself was inhumane. Both hunters and non-hunters agreed that there could be another way to remove the deer without killing them. However, others admit that there needs to be a solution to the problem, even if it means killing the deer.
Mt. Lebanon’s Commission has agreed to continue to explore both lethal and non-lethal options to help with the deer population concern.