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Solebury Township mulls culling as deer population hits almost 5,000

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An estimated 4,992 white-tailed deer set up residence in Solebury last year – that’s a record number of 189 deer per square mile, according to Nate Spence, the township’s wildlife technician.

“We are desperately seeking new property owners to enroll in a program aimed at connecting qualified and committed hunters to harvest antlerless deer,” according to a letter he sent residents.

It’s been a mild winter, which means more deer, said Spence, who is with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Wildlife Services, assigned to Solebury.

State records show that Solebury’s estimated deer population from 2012 through 2019 was: 3,750; 4,276; 4,415; 3,338; 5,211; 3,860; 4,453 and 4,992.

So far, with two weeks left in the hunting season (as of Jan. 9) the 200 hunters in the township have killed 150 deer, he said.

Spence advised residents that deer find refuge on residential lots, commercial properties and public parks where hunting is not permitted by the landowner or where hunting is not legal due to safety restrictions.

He said hunting is not restricted to large properties and can occur on lots as small as 1 acre. Under the law, bow and arrow hunting is permitted 50 yards from a building and for guns, it is 150 yards from a building. However, in some cases a landowner can waive those restrictions, he added.

Since Solebury stopped its sharpshooting program to reduce the deer population in 2008, that population has grown by 350 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

To the argument that maybe lethal methods may not be the way to go, Spence countered that more deer mean more ticks, more car crashes, damage to crops, forests, landscaping and native plants.

“And it’s only going to increase,” he concluded.


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