Deer Culling Sparks Controversy Nationwide


What do you do when the neighborhood deer population gets out of control? Call in the snipers. Officially the practice of thinning out the herd is called “deer culling,” and it’s stirring up controversy around the country.

Usually deer culling means local sharpshooters or bow-and-arrow hunters set up shop in a stand or a motor vehicle and take aim. But many animal rights activists see deer culling as inhumane and unnecessary. Even many hunters are opposed to the idea of hiring government shooters to do the job hunters would gladly do for free. For those hunters lucky enough, they might even get to take part.

In cities and counties throughout the country, groups are clashing with their elected officials over proposed deer culls, perhaps none more divisive than in Mt. Lebanon New York where county commissioners are proposing a cull this fall.

Before another commission meeting, opponents lined the street holding signs equating a recent cull to an assassination. The county’s plans for a deer cull in February were cut short due to weather and five attempts of obstruction by animal rights activists. In 2008, commissioners in Mt. Lebanon halted a two-year program after a wounded deer from a sharpshooter died in a resident’s yard. This year, six deer were killed in 11 days.

“For the good of the community, we must try to reset the dialogue,” President John Bendel read from a letter at the meeting according to the Post Gazette. 

In Aberdeen, Washington 430 people petitioned the Tulos Hill City Council to prevent a deer cull as part of a sheme to plant 80,000 trees in the area, reports the BBC. 

A long-time deer culling program since the 1990s in Lake County, Illinois has proceeded with little opposition over the years, but not so for a similar program in Will County south of Chicago. That program drew criticism after animal rights activists installed hidden cameras that reportedly showed deer being shot but not necessarily killed. The group targeted DuPage County in the past over its tactic of using “rocket nets” to capture deer where explosives are used attached to nets as a way to corral the animals.  

In Dearborn, Michigan, University of Michigan officials hired sharpshooters to target deer at their environmental center, which is normally a protected habitat on campus. The shooters killed 34 deer in several days, University spokesman Ken Kettenbeil told the Lansing State Journal. Car crashes with deer in Michigan reached nearly 50,000 in 2013, resulting in 12 deaths and 1,200 injuries, according to the Michigan Deer Crash Coalition, t. 

Almost all deer culls result in lots of meat donations. In Illinois the program resulted in seven tons of ground venison. Outside Syracuse in Trumansburg a cull resulted in 1,000 pounds of venison to the area Food Bank and local organizations. They used bow and arrows to take 100 deer in recent months. Their program used tree stands at nine locations with archers who set up on private properties at safe distances from any homes.

The city’s recent culling efforts in Avon Lake Ohio have resulted in the donation of more than 600 pounds of venison to a local food bank.