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Saturday essay: Deer liabilities

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Contact Colin McNickle (412-320-7836 or

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Friday, Nov. 8, 2013, 8:57 p.m.

The rut is in full force in Mt. Lebanon. The bucks are running the does in pursuit of a little hubba-hubba time. Residents, when they're not running into them (or over them), are running for cover.

And at nearly 57 deer per square mile in the South Hills community, encounters are the rule, not the exception, and daily (sometimes several times daily).

But it turns out that number, calculated several months ago through an infrared aerial survey, could be low. The estimate of another company, which is offering Mt. Lebanon officials advice on how to cull the herd — a remarkable development in and of itself — says the per-square-mile population could be as high as 80.

A current deer population of nearly 500 could, unchecked now and by one calculation, swell by nearly 240 when “fawndays” bow in the spring.

If you thought a population of 57 deer per square mile was not sustainable and dangerous — and it's already not and it already is in Mt. Lebanon — just imagine what things will be like when there are nearly 114 deer per square mile.

To its credit, Lebo officials appear to be at least entertaining a cull after years and years of hoof-dragging. But the longer they wait, the more deer will be born and, given the growing public safety threat, the greater exposure it will have to legal liabilities that even the most ardent deer-hugging taxpayer will find too steep.

—Colin McNickle

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