Foundation pulls out of deer sterilization plan in Mt. Lebanon
February 16, 2016 5:16 PM
Deer in Mt. Lebanon.
By John Hayes / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Mt. Lebanon deer have been shot by archers, corralled and killed, and soon will be culled by sharpshooters, as commissioners attempt to reduce the population. But female deer in Mt. Lebanon will not be sterilized.
The proposal to surgically render does infertile as an experiment in deer control was dropped when a funding source ended its support and the state Game Commission denied Mt. Lebanon’s request for a special permit.
“We got a letter from the Botstiber Foundation saying they … cannot offer Mt. Lebanon financial assistance [in the deer control program],” said Keith McGill, Mt. Lebanon municipal manager. “The letter from the Game Commission said they won’t support the sterilization project and listed several reasons.”
A spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania-based Dietrich W. Botstiber Foundation confirmed the nonprofit group would not provide funding for the project, which was expected to cost some $200,000.
Mr. McGill said the Game Commission’s decision was based in part on Mt. Lebanon commissioners’ stated goal to reduce deer-vehicle collisions by 50 percent in five years.
“They said in order to do that, deer must be removed from the population, and sterilization was not going to do anything to reduce existing numbers,” said Mr. McGill. “They listed some other reasons, including their view that to put deer back in the environment to be reduced in number by deer-vehicle collisions was not a humane method of deer control.”
A Game Commission spokesman could not be reached for comment.
Stephanie Boyles Griffin, a biologist for the Humane Society of the United States, cosponsor of the fertility program, said it was not intended to immediately reduce deer numbers. In the five-year program, nearly all of Mt. Lebanon’s does would be surgically sterilized. The experiment would test the impact that untreated does coming into Mt. Lebanon would have on the population.
“The experiment wouldn’t work if lethal deer control methods were also used,” said Ms. Boyles Griffin. “In six months of contacts with Mt. Lebanon we told them that if they moved forward with a sharpshooting program, that was a deal breaker for us. … We and the Botstiber Foundation would have to back out.”
In recent weeks, Mt. Lebanon commissioners voted to approve the cull and the Game Commission licensed it.
The fertility experiment’s cosponsor, the nonprofit wildlife conservation group White Buffalo, coordinated the recent controlled archery hunt and is expected to start the sharpshooting next week.
President Anthony DeNicola suggested Mt. Lebanon could reapply for the Game Commission permit once deer density is reduced to meet commissioners’ goals and annual controlled archery maintains the population.
“When numbers are down, conditions may support reintroducing the fertility program,” he said.
John Hayes: 412-263-1991, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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