Deer Management Program Summary

Summary of Deer Management Program to Date

June 11, 2019 Discussion Session:

Deer Management Program Summary Report - June 11, 2019

 Deer in the Garden & Yard

Legal guide
Nurseries with deer resistant plants
Plant list
Garden pests
Deer Repellents for Homeowners     


Problem Statement 

To help the Mt. Lebanon Commission make informed decisions about deer management, the municipality began collecting data and assessing options more than five years ago. The staff began tracking the number of police reports involving deer-car traffic incidents. The first full-year data was collected in 2013. Between 2013 and 2015, reported deer-car incidents increased from 43 in 2013 to 73 in 2015—a 66 percent increase. Deer-vehicular incidents continued to increase in 2016 to 122 – a 67 percent increase in just one year. During that same time period, the number of reports the Police Department and Animal Control received related to injured/dead deer in roadways and yards increased as well and the number of requests for dead deer pickups more than doubled— from 48 in 2008 to 127 in 2015. A chart detailing the month-by-month deer-vehicular reports and dead deer pickup calls is included in Section II.

Based on a 2014 report from the Pennsylvania Game Commission, deer-vehicular collisions was deemed one of the primary problems with deer in developed areas. The report cited data from State Farm Insurance which projected approximately 115,000 deer-vehicular collisions statewide with an average vehicle repair cost of approximately $1,500. Furthermore, based on nation-wide data compiled by the University of Wisconsin and Iowa State University, Pennsylvania ranked in the Top 10 states for fatalities due to deer-vehicular collisions 11 times between 2000 and 2013.  

Management Goals

Measurable Objectives

In January 2014, the Commission established a goal of improving vehicular safety within the community. The Commission established the measurable objective to reduce deer-vehicular incidents by 50 percent over the next five years. Deer Management plan by Wildlife Specialists (November 17, 2014). This goal provides a focus that helps guide decisions as we move forward. Achieving the objective requires a multi-pronged approach. Over the past four years, the Commission has collected and evaluated information and advice from experts, and has taken many well-considered actions intended to achieve our deer management goal. The actions are summarized below.

Trend and Status of Objectives

The municipality saw an increase in reported Deer-Vehicular incidents through 2016. In the last two years, the Deer-Vehicular incidents are trending downwards but still above the numbers from 2013 and 2014 when the Commission set the goal for reduction. This indicates progress towards the Commission’s goal but the need for continued action to meet the goal of a 50% reduction in Deer-Vehicular incidents.

deer v vehicle totals

Due to the fact that not all Deer-Vehicular incidents are reported to the Mt. Lebanon Police Department, the Municipality also tracks the number of Dead Deer Pick-Ups by Animal Control. The peak year for Dead Deer Pick-Ups was in 2015 when there were 127 calls. Since that peak year the number has steadily declined, dropping by 31% in 2016, by 26% in 2017, and by 20% in 2018. This marked a total decrease of 59% from the high water mark in 2015. This indicates further progress towards meeting the Commission’s stated goal of a reduction in Deer-Vehicular collisions. Map of Deer Incidents 2014 - December 2018 in Mt. Lebanon.

dead deer pickup

Description and Justification of Methods to Measure Objectives

In January 2014 the Mt. Lebanon Commission established the goal of reducing Deer-Vehicular collisions by 50% over the next five years. In November 2014 a Deer Management Plan was issued for Mt. Lebanon by Wildlife Specialists, LLC that discussed both non-lethal and lethal management options to reduce deer-vehicular collisions. The Mt. Lebanon Police Department began to track reported Deer-Vehicular collisions in 2013 in order to help the Commission establish a baseline for this goal. That tracking of data has continued and has enabled the Municipality to generate maps and “hot spots” of deer activity to better focus management efforts. Additionally, because not all Deer-Vehicular incidents are reported to the Mt. Lebanon Police Department, the Municipality has also tracked the number of calls received for Dead Deer Pick-Ups by Animal Control. Since not all Deer-Vehicular incidents result in a dead deer, and not all dead deer were caused by vehicles, the Municipality has utilized this supplementary data to make decisions about the deer management efforts. The Municipality has employed both non-lethal and lethal methods of Deer Management over the last four years.

History of Deer Management Actions

Non-Lethal Methods

Deer Crossing Signs: 28 deer crossing signs have been installed on state, county and local roads based on deer/vehicular and dead deer pickup data.

Mobile message trailers: These trailers are situated appropriately and display warning messages to alert motorists during times of heavy deer activity (Fawning Season—May/June and the Rut—September through November).

Public education:

  • Deer Panel Discussion: In June 2014, a deer panel discussion was held and televised online and on cable. The panel included District Justice Blaise Larotonda (moderator), Dr. Anthony DeNicola (White Buffalo), Jeannine Fleegle (PA Game Commission), Todd Kravits (PennDOT), Laura Simon (Humane Society of the United States), Tom Kelley (Mt. Lebanon Public Works Director), Sandy Feather (Penn State Cooperative) and Aaron Lauth (MLPD). Panelists answered a variety of questions about deer management. In 2015, the Commission held two forums to which the public was invited to ask questions of experts, one at Mellon and one at Mt. Lebanon High School Fine Arts Theater. View the June 14 deer panel discussion here..
  • Sandy Baker: the Deer Doctor: The municipality hired Ms. Baker to provide a series of presentations and to also speak with residents and elected officials about deer deterrent strategies as part of a comprehensive deer management plan. (April 25-27, 2015)
  • Commission Discussion Sessions and Meetings: The Commission has discussed deer management at many Commission Discussion and Regular meetings over the past several years. 
  • Municipal Website:  FAQs on Comprehensive Deer Management Professional Sharpshooting January 2019. Information, reports, articles, PowerPoints and more are on the historical deer information page.
  • mtl magazine: The municipal magazine has published print and online articles related to deer and deer management and has provided many Facebook posts on deer management issues, including deer behavior, driver safety and deer deterrent strategies. A recent article showed the location of how deer-resistant shrubs and flowers have been used in public planting areas, serving as a demonstration project to people who might like to do something similar on their properties, as per a recommendation from Sandy Baker. 
  • LeboALERTs: The subscription-based LeboALERT system has been used to notify residents when new information related to deer management is posted to the municipal website or during times of high deer activity, (Fawning or Rut).
  • Library Speaker Series (Fall 2016): Growing Together-Connecting with Nature was a three-entry series of fun and educational events held at the library in the fall of 2016. The series was intended to “help residents learn more about plantings that will thrive in our area and how to better co-exist with the wildlife that share our backyards and gardens.” The programs were taped and broadcast when permitted by the speakers. Speakers and dates are as follows:

September 27, 7-8 p.m., Jessica Wallister, free-lance horticulturalist, Deer Proofing and Pest Proofing your Yard Naturally—Simple Strategies that Work. View video here.
October 9, 2-3 p.m., Gabby Hughes, Beechwood Farms Nature Reserve, Nature in Our Backyards
October 26, 7- 8 p.m., Faith Starr, Green with Faith, The Ying and Yang of Gardening: Mind Body and Spirit Gardening.

  • Look Up Lebo: This campaign, with a new logo and stepped up enforcement, was rolled out at the start of the 2016-2017 school year. The goal is to improve pedestrian, vehicle and bicycle safety. A video debuted in early September 2016, and Look Up Lebo was the main municipal magazine feature story in the September 2016 issue. Look Up Lebo safety tips have been included in the municipal magazine in subsequent issues. More details are available on the municipal website at http://www.mtlebanon.org/2241/Vehicle-Pedestrian-Bike-Safety.
  • Landscaping Alternatives: The municipality has posted a list of “less preferred” plants on the municipal website and has modified the shrubs and flowers used in municipal planting areas to make these areas less attractive to deer.
  • Ban on Deer Feeding: Ordinance #3212, enacted in June of 2012, prohibits the feeding of deer. Enforcement is limited because of fourth amendment rights and principally relies on residents to notify the municipality of violations.
  • Repellents: The municipal website lists deer-deterrent products that can be applied to plantings to reduce attractiveness or palatability.
  • Fencing: The municipality’s zoning ordinance permits the installation of fencing that can potentially limit access to property by deer.
  • Sterilization: The municipality has pursued the possibility of a sterilization program through discussions with the Pennsylvania Game Commission. At this point, the Game Commission has yet to approve a deer sterilization research project in Mt. Lebanon.
  • GIS mapping: A GIS map displaying the location of vehicle-related deer incidents between May 2011 and June 2016 is posted on the municipal website. An additional map noting the locations of incidents between January 2014 and September 2018 is also available and is included in this packet. Note: because of data limitations, only about 50 percent of reported deer/vehicular incidents were able to be mapped.

Lethal Methods

  • Controlled Archery Hunt 2015-2016 Season: White Buffalo, Inc., a wildlife management firm, was hired to screen, train and manage the archers who conducted a bow hunt in the fall of 2015. The archers were required to show experience through harvest verification and were required to have a Bow Hunter Education Certification before beginning. The hunt took place on the following public properties: Conservation District (Connor/Terrace Road), Golf Course, McNeilly Park and Robb Hollow Park as well as the adjacent public works property. In addition, interested residents worked directly with White Buffalo to donate their properties for the program. A total of 104 deer were removed through this program. Total cost: $15,460. Archery Hunt 2015-2016 final report.
  • Sharpshooting: 2015–2016 Season: White Buffalo, Inc. was hired to cull deer under a political subdivision permit issued by the Pennsylvania Game Commission. The cull took place on the following public properties: Municipal Golf Course, McNeilly Park,and Robb Hollow Park as well as the adjacent public works property. Interested residents worked directly with White Buffalo to donate their properties for the program. The cull took place over 13 days between February 25 and March 8. 115 deer were removed. Total cost: $74,375. Sharpshooting 2015-2016 final report.
  • Controlled Archery Hunt, 2016-2017 Season: White Buffalo, Inc., was hired to screen, train and manage the archers who conducted a bow hunt in the fall of 2016. The archers were required to show experience through harvest verification and were required to have a Bow Hunter Education Certification before beginning. The hunt took place on the following public properties: Conservation District (Connor/Terrace Road), Golf Course, McNeilly Park and Robb Hollow Park as well as the adjacent public works property. In addition, interested residents worked directly with White Buffalo to donate their properties for the program. A total of 36 deer were removed through this program. Total cost: $9,000. Archery Hunt 2016-2017 final report.
  • Sharpshooting 2016-2017 Season: White Buffalo, Inc. was hired to cull deer under a political subdivision permit issued by the Pennsylvania Game Commission. The cull took place on the following public properties: Municipal Golf Course, McNeilly Park,and Robb Hollow Park as well as the adjacent public works property. Interested residents worked directly with White Buffalo to donate their properties for the program. The cull took place over 7 days between February 16 and February 22. 55 deer were removed. Total cost: $44,868.50. Sharpshooting 2016-2017 final report.
  • Controlled Archery Hunt, 2017-2018 Season: White Buffalo, Inc., was hired to screen, train and manage the archers who conducted a bow hunt in the fall of 2017. The archers were required to show experience through harvest verification and were required to have a Bow Hunter Education Certification before beginning. The hunt took place on the following public properties: Conservation District (Connor/Terrace Road), Golf Course, McNeilly Park and Robb Hollow Park as well as the adjacent public works property. In addition, interested residents worked directly with White Buffalo to donate their properties for the program. A total of 25 deer were removed through this program. Total cost: $9,000. Archery Hunt 2017-2018 final report.
  • Sharpshooting 2017-2018 Season: White Buffalo, Inc. was hired to cull deer under a political subdivision permit issued by the Pennsylvania Game Commission. The cull took place on the following public properties: Municipal Golf Course, McNeilly Park,and Robb Hollow Park as well as the adjacent public works property. Interested residents worked directly with White Buffalo to donate their properties for the program. The cull took place between February 9-13 and March 3-9. 57 deer were removed. Total cost: $55,624.99.Sharpshooting 2017-2018 final report.
  • Controlled Archery Hunt, 2018-2019 Season: Suburban Wildlife Management Solutions, Inc (SWMS). was hired to screen, train and manage the archers who conducted a bow hunt in the fall of 2017. The archers were required to show experience through harvest verification and were required to have a Bow Hunter Education Certification before beginning. The hunt took place on the following public properties: Conservation District (Connor/Terrace Road), Golf Course, McNeilly Park and Robb Hollow Park as well as the adjacent public works property. In addition, interested residents worked directly with SWMS to donate their properties for the program. A total of 30 deer were removed through this program. Total cost: $8,000. Archery Hunt 2018-2019 final report.
  • Sharpshooting 2018-2019 Season: White Buffalo, Inc. was hired to cull deer under a political subdivision permit issued by the Pennsylvania Game Commission. The cull took place on the following public properties: Municipal Golf Course, McNeilly Park,and Robb Hollow Park as well as the adjacent public works property. Interested residents worked directly with White Buffalo to donate their properties for the program. The cull took place between February 13-25. 44 deer were removed. Total cost: $43,451.37. Sharpshooting 2018-2019 final report.hunt totals

Cost-Benefit Analysis

Since the Commission set the goal of a reduction in Deer-Vehicular Collisions in 2014, the municipality has expended $269,578.60 on Deer Management activities. Over 80% of these funds were spent on the Sharp Shooting programs. The Archery programs accounted for an additional 15% of expenditures. Public education, other culling (the 2015 “Trap and Euthanize” program), and other expenditures (such as signage) accounted for the remainder of the costs.

deer expense

The first year of the program (2015-16) was the most expensive due to three factors. First, this was the year in which most of the public education and other expenditures were made. Secondly, there were setup costs involved with establishing both the archery and sharpshooting programs. Finally, the most deer were removed during this cycle, which rendered increased processing costs. In the three years since the first year expenditure of $99,633.74, the municipality’s annual deer management program has had averaged $56,648.29. On a per-household basis, the four-year program has averaged $4.59 per household per year with the last 3 years averaging $3.85 per household per year.

Based on the Deer-Vehicular Collision data cited above in Section II, the impacts of the municipality’s control efforts were not recognized until 2017. From 2013 through 2016, the number of Deer-Vehicular Collisions increased at a polynomial rate (with a trendline accuracy of nearly 99%). A polynomial trendline was chosen because it had the greatest degree of accuracy. The exponential growth trendline was 96% accurate and the linear trendline was only 89% accurate. Based on this polynomial growth rate over the first four years of data, Deer-Vehicular Collisions should have increased to approximately 182 in 2017 and 261 in 2018. Instead, the Deer-Vehicular Collisions decreased in the last two years to 86 (96 below projected) and 61 (200 below projected).

projection graph

This estimated reduction of 296 in Deer-Vehicular Collisions over the last two years is a benefit of the municipality’s deer management efforts. Further, taking the data cited by the Pennsylvania Game Commission report that Deer-Vehicular Collisions average $1,500 in damage renders a $440,000 cost savings to Mt. Lebanon residents based on the reduction in collisions. This factors out to a $30 savings per household over the last two years. In comparison, the entire four-year municipal deer management program has come at a cost of $18 per household.

Of the 466 deer harvested through Mt. Lebanon’s archery and sharpshooting programs, 68% were female and 32% were male. The Game Commission notes that the removal of one adult doe during hunting season typically equates to a reduction of 3 deer the following spring. Based on the 466 deer removed through Mt. Lebanon’s program, the overall deer population has been reduced by over 4000 deer.

An additional benefit of the program is the donation of venison to the Hunters Sharing the Harvest program. Over the four years of Mt. Lebanon’s Deer Management program, over 9,500 pounds of venison has been donated. Based on the formula used by Hunters Sharing the Harvest, this equates to over 47,500 meals that have been donated locally. Organizations that have received donations of venison from Mt. Lebanon’s program include: Bethany Presbyterian Church, Jubilee Soup Kitchen, Greater Washington Food Bank, Link in the Chain Ministries, Monongahela Food Bank, and West Hills Food Pantry. Charitable organizations are chosen for donation through the Hunters Sharing the Harvest program.

Pennsylvania Game Commission Rules and Regulations

In 2014 the Pennsylvania Game Commission published A Guide to Community Deer Management in Pennsylvania

The Game Commission’s Guide recommends against performing Deer Population Estimates. The reasoning behind this is articulated: “deer problems are not defined by the number of deer. They are defined by the impact of those deer.” The Guide recommends “identifying and measuring impacts of deer, not numbers of deer. Trends are important relative to your goals – if your goal is to reduce deer-vehicle collisions, you have achieved this goal when there are less accidents, not when there is an arbitrary density of deer in your community. The number of deer may be linked to deer-vehicle collisions but you don’t need to know one to achieve the other.” The Mt. Lebanon Commission followed this recommended procedure by clearly stating a goal of reducing deer-vehicular collisions.

The Guide includes a number of potential management options for community consideration. The non-removal (non-lethal) options that have been utilized by Mt. Lebanon are:

1. Roadside Devices
2. Landscaping Alternatives
3. Ban Deer Feeding
4. Repellents
5. Fencing

The Guide includes a discussion on Hazing and Frightening Techniques but notes these are most effective on small farms or preserves, not in urban areas. Additionally, Fertility Control Agents and Trap and Relocate options are discussed with notes that both require special permits from the Pennsylvania Game Commission. In the past, Mt. Lebanon’s application for a permit to use Fertility Control Agents was denied. The Trap and Relocate option is not currently permitted anywhere in the Commonwealth.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission currently permits three types of removal (lethal) options for deer management.

1. Hunting Within Statewide Regulations – opens lands to any licensed hunter as defined by annual Pennsylvania Game Commission regulations.
2. Community-Managed Hunts – Pennsylvania Game Commission regulations, along with additional restrictions and management structures by a local community.
3. Deer Control Permits/Sharpshooters – Political subdivisions may make annual application to the Game Commission for a permit to conduct sharpshooting activities. These permits are only granted if Hunting Within Statewide Regulations or a Community-Managed Hunt has taken place.

The 2014 Guide by the Pennsylvania Game Commission also discussed predator reintroduction as a means of controlling deer populations but noted that this method was not an approved application anywhere in the Commonwealth and was unsuitable for urban and suburban communities.


*All archers involved in the Mt. Lebanon program carry identification. If you have any safety concerns, call 911. 

  

For prior information, please review the Historical Deer Management Information Page deer_house.jpg