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Deer reduction program underway in the town of DeWitt

Alan Light

The town of DeWitt has started a program to reduce the number of deer that roam throughout the town. Residents may see an immediate reduction in the number of deer after this winter’s deer cull, but it’s a strategy that will take several years.

A 2 1/2 month deer cull has started with sharpshooters from the U.S. Department of Agriculture putting down bait to attract the deer in targeted areas of the town. DeWitt Sustainability Coordinator Christine Manchester says residents in areas where deer are being culled shouldn’t be aware of it happening.

“All the weapons have suppressors, and all the sites they have chosen, people should not hear shots.  However in the event that people are concerned, 911 will be notified as well as the local police department.”

This deer management strategy is meant to reduce the large number of deer in DeWitt, estimated at 85 deer per square mile. And residents should start to notice a difference right away.

“I think the public will know right away if they are feeling relief. We get calls from people who say they have six, seven, eight deer in their yard,” said Manchester.

But even with that immediate relief, Manchester says this winter's cull will not be the end of the story, expecting culls every winter for a few years until the deer population stabilizes. 

“Ideally, if we didn’t have budget constraints, what we’d really want to look at doing is sterilizing the females, so the ones left can’t reproduce. It is expensive, and I imaging a very heavy lift to the constituents,” said Manchester.

New York State is funding the $15,000 for this year’s cull. Manchester expects the town to apply for county funds that have been put aside for deer culls in the future.

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.