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Advisory group recommends cull to curb deer overpopulation in Syracuse

Joe Driscoll
A public meeting on Syracuse's deer management plan at Nottingham High School.

The Syracuse Tick and Deer Management Advisory Group is advising the city to kill a significant number of deer, to curb deer overpopulation and reduce the risk of tick-borne diseases. The problem is also affecting elected officials personally.

Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon was bitten by a tick a few weeks ago.

“My neighborhood has 12 times more deer than it should," McMahon said. 'Knowing that, you take the proper precautions. But I have a dog, and it could have jumped on my dog and then on the couch, it could have jumped on me. I don’t really know. I know that it was on me for a couple days before I found it.”

McMahon is still waiting on blood results. He said his experience shows what a huge issue this is. Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh said he’s heard loud and clear from some of the neighborhoods on the east and west sides of the city.

“Where I live, I have deer going through my yard every day," Walsh said. "I’ve had ticks on my family dog. I understand it.”

The Syracuse deer advisory group recommends using federal sharpshooters at 10 target areas on public and private land and donating all the meat to food banks. Other municipalities in the area, like Fayetteville and DeWitt, have already implemented deer culls that kill around 60-80 deer in a year.

At public meetings on the issue in Syracuse, Common Councilor Joe Driscoll said the vast majority of residents who attended, were in favor of culling.

“One gentlemen noted that he had 35-40 deer dropping piles in his yard throughout the season and said it was impossible for his grandkids to play in the backyard," Driscoll said. "People feel like they can’t use their yards. They don’t feel safe to go out in their backyards.”

A plan needs to be submitted to the common council and approved by the state Department of Environmental Conservation, before it could begin this fall and winter.

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.