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Syracuse prepares for deer cull, no exact locations or numbers yet

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Alan Light
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The city of Syracuse is moving forward with its tick and deer management plan. A deer cull is being planned for the east and west sides of the city. Officials are not saying the exact locations of the cull, or how many deer would be killed. 

The purpose of the cull is to reduce the overpopulation of deer in the city. Estimates show the deer population in Syracuse could be five to ten times more than what’s recommended for urban areas. Deer can ruin landscaping and carry ticks, which can spread Lyme disease.

Culling will be done by federal sharpshooters on public and some private land, pending approval. The issue for some Syracuse councilors, like Joe Driscoll, is informing neighbors where and when this would take place in their area.

“They’re not going to be surprised by finding someone in their backyard sharpshooting," Driscoll said. "Any private property we’re using, we will have consent beforehand. Those immediately adjacent to the cull sites will be made aware.”

Councilor Joe Carni said there should be a neighborhood meeting before sharpshooters go in.

"I'd like us to have some sort of conversation with folks prior to it, so they understand what we're doing," Carni said. "I can appreciate it is a little bit concerning when you hear we're going to be culling. But we're bringing in folks that do this type of work, that are familiar with it, and haven't had any issues with it."

The exact locations of culling will not be made public out of safety concerns and possible disruption by animal rights activists. Driscoll said some people released dogs in Dewitt and Fayetteville to scare off deer during culling in those areas.

There is also not a set amount of deer the city wants killed. Other municipalities in Onondaga County have killed between 50-100 deer in a season. Driscoll hopes it is somewhere in that range for Syracuse.

Culling should begin this winter and last until the end of March. Meat from the culling will be processed and donated to homeless shelters.

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.