Heights of North Park residents request help in controlling deer herd in area

In the backyard of Terry and Barbara Peterson, of the Heights of North Park, regularly are visited by deer.
In the backyard of Terry and Barbara Peterson, of the Heights of North Park, regularly are visited by deer.
Deborah Deasy
| Wednesday, March 26, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Heights of North Park homeowners want Pine officials' to help manage the herds of defecating, sleeping and reportedly starving deer in their housing plan.

“They're not intimidated by people anymore,” resident Jackie Demetris recently told the Pine Township Board of Supervisors. When snows recently melted, neighbor Heidi Donovan found a small, dead deer under her dining room window, behind some bushes.

“There's got to be a way to manage these herds,” said Kathy Seaton, another resident,

Pine supervisors Chairman Mike Dennehy agreed after Demetris and Seaton spoke at the supervisors' March 17 meeting.

“My bushes have been totally destroyed,” Dennehy said. “It's a problem we need to look at.”

Heights of North Park residents want the supervisors to partner with the Pennsylvania Game Commission to address the animals' apparent overpopulation.

“I want them — the supervisors — to put a line item in their budget to investigate a deer management program for the township,” Demetris said.

After the meeting, Dennehy asked Scott Anderson, township assistant manager, to seek the game commission's aid with the deer issue.

“There's no easy answer to this,” Dennehy said. “All we can do is ask for the assistance of the game commission, and try to follow their instructions.

“The big problem is (deer in) North Park,” Dennehy said about the county park that adjoins the Heights of North Park housing plan.

Dan Puhala, the game commission's wildlife conservation officer for northern Allegheny County, said Pine officials can consider a number of ways to manage the deer population. Among the possible steps they may take: listing deer feeding bans, controlled archery hunts, fencing, and deer culling by permit with firearms.

“There are issues of practicality and social acceptability that need to be discussed on a government level,” Puhala said.

Heights of North Park residents cited rampant deer scat among a number of problems caused by the animals.

“I shovel it with my snow shovel because it's just in piles,” Demetris said. “They're eating things they normally don't eat, like blue spruce. ... They've destroyed the hemlocks around here.”

Neighbor Anita King fears the deer herds' threat to her children's health, more than the animals' destruction of vegetation.

“I have two small children,” she said. “Our yard is trashed, but my concern is the ticks and the disease and the droppings everywhere, and my kids not being able to play in my yard unless I spend two hours cleaning it up.

“The Lyme disease thing really frightens me, even more than the landscaping issues, which are major,” King said. “We put in 25 new trees. They (the deer) ate half of them.

“They're not afraid of people,” King said about the deer. “They're basically knocking on my front door.”

King said that she is open to shooting the animals. But Dennehy knows deer control by firearms is likely to upset people.

“I'm not sure there are a lot of choices,” Dennehy said. “The obvious choice is to eliminate the deer, but PETA — People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals — would be all over us.”

Deborah Deasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6369 or ddeasy@tribweb.com.

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