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Allegheny

Woman still fighting to learn details about Mt. Lebanon deer cull

| Friday, Jan. 6, 2017, 6:42 p.m.
A deer dines on greenery outside Mt. Lebanon High School on Monday June 22, 2015. Township commissioners met in the school to discuss how to improve deer management.
Philip G. Pavely | Trib Total Media
A deer dines on greenery outside Mt. Lebanon High School on Monday June 22, 2015. Township commissioners met in the school to discuss how to improve deer management.

A Mt. Lebanon woman continues to fight to learn where hunting is allowed under the township's controversial deer culling program.

Elaine Gillen appealed her open records case to the state Supreme Court on Friday. Last month, a Commonwealth Court panel ruled that the township is not legally obligated to disclose the properties where hunting occurs.

“There are a lot of people who walk their dogs and people whose children walk to school,” Gillen told the Tribune-Review. “A lot of people are concerned, and since the government is paying for this, we have a right to know where it's happening.”

Gillen said she wants to know the addresses where the hunting occurs so pedestrians know to avoid those areas. She said she does not intend to harass the homeowners or publish their names.

No culling is to take place near schools or walking routes, according to the township website .

Mt. Lebanon in July hired White Buffalo Inc. to conduct an archery hunt from Sept. 17 through Jan. 28 on public and private land to reduce its deer population.Gillen filed an open records request in July seeking emails related to the program. Mt. Lebanon provided 131 emails but denied access to emails that would identify property owners who are allowing hunting on their land, according to Gillen's appeal.

The municipality did not release the list of properties because “access to those records would result in substantial and demonstrable risk to the personal security of the property owners,” according to court documents. Gillen appealed to the state's Office of Open Records, which ruled in her favor. Mt. Lebanon then submitted a petition to Allegheny County Common Pleas Court. After a hearing in April, the court sided with Mt. Lebanon. Last month, Commonwealth Court upheld the ruling.

After the archery program, a firearms cull will follow from Feb. 1 through March 31, according to the township's website. The goal is to cut by half the number of deer-involved car crashes over five years.

The municipality conducted a similar program last year, killing 219 deer.Theresa Clift is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-380-5669 or tclift@tribweb.com.

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