Pittsburgh mayor asks for bow hunt in city parks to cull out-of-control deer population

Pennsylvania bowhunters could have some new urban hunting grounds opening up if Pittsburgh City Council approves a request from the mayor.

Citing deer overpopulation in the city, Mayor Ed Gainey has proposed legislation that would create a pilot program for a one-day bow hunt in Pittsburgh’s Frick and Riverview parks, according to National Public Radio affiliate WESA-FM.

The station reported that Gainey’s administration hopes that the council will approve the measure in time for bowhunting season this fall. Archery season for deer begins Sept. 30.

Gainey spokesperson Maria Montano told WESA that hunting is necessary because “the size of the population is beyond the point where birth-control methods would be effective.”

Montano said that municipalities around Pittsburgh have deer-management programs, but the city does not.

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WESA reported that the mayor’s legislation says that there are about 51 deer per square mile of city parkland per the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the “typically appropriate” figure is 10 deer per square mile or fewer.

According to WPXI-TV, the legislation was submitted to the council on Tuesday and states that the white-tailed deer population in city parks has “risen to levels that threaten the safety of residents and the ecological integrity of the parks.”

Frick Park, on the eastern side of Pittsburgh, covers 644 acres while Riverview Park encompasses about 251 acres on the city’s North Side.

“There isn’t enough food to sustain (deer), and they are causing long-term damage, eating saplings, before they take root,” Montano told WESA. “We’re seeing soil erosion and soil destabilization, and it has an impact on our ability to control landslides.”

She explained that the city would allow 30 eligible bowhunters who pass a skills test to participate in the one-day hunt. A maximum of 60 applications would be accepted.

Hunters will be required to take a doe first and donate the meat to a food bank. After that, additional deer can be taken.

Once the bow hunt is over, the USDA will send in hunters to further cull the deer population, which will cost the city about $10,000, WESA reported.

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