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Syracuse kills 159 deer in first year of new management plan, will continue in 2021

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO Public Media File Photo
Deer in Syracuse.

One hundred fifty-nine deer were killed in the first year of the City of Syracuse’s deer management plan. The program is meant to reduce deer overpopulation, which causes property and ecological damage and can spread ticks and Lyme disease.

The deer culling was cut short in March due to the coronavirus, but Syracuse Common Councilor Joe Driscoll called it a success.

“We thought anything above 80 or 90 would be a great result,” Driscoll said. “It definitely exceeded what we hoped for.”

The deer meat was donated to local food banks. It’s estimated that the deer population in Syracuse could be eight times what’s recommended for an urban environment.

“We knew one year wouldn’t be enough to solve the situation,” Driscoll said. “It’s going to have to be an effort to maintain the population. The goal is not to rid the city of the deer population, but to get them to a healthy balance.”

Driscoll said the biggest change from this year to next year’s program, will be getting to parts of the city that haven’t seen a reduction in deer.

“There’s some areas that are definitely harder hit than others,” Driscoll said. “How do we make sure that we’re getting to those areas where people are really seeing a lot of damage and a lot of ticks?”

The culling was conducted by the United States Department of Agriculture. A summary of their results can be found here. They said the main challenge was interference by people, both intentional and unintentional, at baiting locations. They recommend additional properties by added to increase coverage, live trapping deer in areas where shooting is not feasible, and tracking the data of damage caused by deer, to determine the effectiveness of the program.

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.