Deer Among The Dead: A Look At The Bucks And Doe Calling Allegheny Cemetery Home

May 3, 2018

The Allegheny Cemetery stretches 300-acres in Lawrenceville, bordered by Butler Street, Stanton Avenue and Mossfield Street. Between the rows of headstones and mausoleums that line the burial ground, many people run into some four-legged visitors.

The deer in the Allegheny Cemetery are notorious for being tame. They aren't easily spooked, and are often found grazing among the trees and man-made structures.

Credit Brian Siewiorek / 90.5 WESA

"It's basically a wildlife sanctuary," Ron Hendrickson with the Pennsylvania Game Commission said. "They have a lot of food, no natural predation really, so they can really thrive in an area like that."

Hendrickson said it's hard to know exactly how many deer make the cemetery their home. 

"I'm not a biologist, but they have different ways where they take groups of deer and figure out how many there are and put that into an equation," he said. "They can get more of a basic idea of how many there may be, but it would take someone like a biologist to do something like that for us."

Hendrickson said there aren't any plans down the pipeline to do a study like this, mostly because the deer aren't causing problems. If he had to guess he says he thinks there are a couple hundred deer that call Allegheny Cemetery home. 

This is part of our Good Question! series where we investigate what you've always wondered about Pittsburgh, its people and its culture.

The burial ground is full of deer favorites, like grass and twigs. Besides the abundance of food and space, Hendrickson said deer probably thrive here because in Pennsylvania, hunting is illegal in cemeteries. 

Credit Brian Siewiorek / 90.5 WESA

"If it were just a wooded area of Lawrenceville, it would be completely legal to hunt as long as you were 150 yards from any structure, things like that," he said.

If you run into a deer or two at the Allegheny Cemetery, Douglas Bergman, also with the Game Commission, says please don't feed them. Their dietary requirements are well taken care of by the land.

"When you supply that food source for it, you've actually retrained that animal and it's gotten away from its natural habits," Bergman said.