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Syracuse deer count underway in effort to start curbing herd growth

David Stone

Residents in some eastside Syracuse neighborhoods and the town of DeWitt agree that something should be done about a burgeoning deer population. Those are the findings of a survey conducted by Assemblywoman Pam Hunter.

The next step is finding out just how many deer are out there, and what can be done to put a dent in the herd. Research wildlife biologist Brian Underwood says it starts by counting deer in some neighborhoods in the eastside of Syracuse, and going on from there.

“That will actually explore what the deer population has done, but will explore all the potential alternatives for management on the eastside," Underwood said. 

It’s become a ritual of sort for some SUNY ESF scientists to skulk about eastside Syracuse neighborhoods, counting deer.

"We count them just as it gets to be dawn," said research wildlife biologist Brian Underwood. "We’ve been doing that once a week for about 18 months straight.”

Underwood says the results aren’t in yet, but he expects there will be more than the 200 deer scientists counted four years ago.

“Deer population can actually -under ideal conditions- can double in under three years," Underwood said. "That’s how fast they can reproduce. I’m speculating here, but I fully expect the deer population has made pretty substantial increases since the last time.”

This deer counting is being paid for by a state grant in the wake of concern over Lyme Disease, which can be transmitted by deer ticks.

While the initial research is being analyzed now, Underwood expects the final results to be available to communities trying to figure what to do about all the deer by early next year. Some of those alternatives include culling, legal regulated harvesting, and fertility control. 

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.