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County Council Launches New Deer Management Website

Larry Smith

Pittsburgh-area residents have a story or two about close encounters with deer on the road or in their backyards.

That’s why the Allegheny County Council has posted tips on its website for residents to avoid unwanted run-ins with the local white tail deer population.

“We are trying to provide information and tools for the municipalities to help them and give them some ideas on with dealing with the deer,” Councilwoman Sue Means said.

The growing deer population is a health and safety issue, she said.

“Pennsylvania ranks fifth among all states for vehicular accidents involving deer, and last year alone contractors removed over 10,000 deer from state highways," Means said. "And the numbers are increasing already this year.”

PennDOT reported 3,487 car crashes involving deer in 2014, resulting in nine human fatalities.

Each municipality handles deer populations differently. Mt. Lebanon officials proposed deer culling to deal with high instances of deer-related car crashes earlier in the year. This was met with much pushback, calling for a more humane approach. Last week, a 3-2 vote was reached to proceed with the culling program.

“Of course it’s very emotional for some people because they are very impassioned about not harming the deer. But then there’s also the safety issue and people who have concerns for their property,” Means said. 

County Council established the website as an easy-to-use resource for residents, she said. Tips include not purposely feeding the deer, planting deer-resistant plants and building a fence to keep them out of private property.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission reported a 2014-2015 harvest estimate of 303,973 white tail deer in the state, resulting in an overall decrease of 14 percent in the population from the 2013-2014 season. , according to the commission, deer eat 5 to 10 pounds of food a day and only need 100 to 300 acres of space to live, making them highly adaptable to suburban areas with garden space.