Updated: Nov 23, 2022
- D. Delany, EAC Chair - photo credit, Jim Moffett
As deer hunting season approaches, it is normal to feel sad that many of these beautiful, gentle creatures will lose their lives. What is prettier than a mother deer and her fawns or the expression on a deer’s face?
The harsh reality is that deer are the most the most dangerous wild animal in Pennsylvania. In the past 5 years, they have caused 69 deaths and 6,208 injuries through car accidents. They are ruining crops, damaging future timber harvests, contributing to the dwindling numbers of pollinators and songbirds, and changing the state’s forest composition. And to further quote from the thorough and eye-opening article from Natural Lands “Finding Balance” - humans made it so.
There has never been this many deer in Pennsylvania. Today, there are three times the number of deer as there were 350 years ago, thanks to a combination of human forces – the killing off of deer’s natural predators, destruction of forest habitat, and a warming climate. This isn’t good for the deer themselves. Having so many deer clustered together exposes deer populations to new diseases and allows the diseases to spread rapidly.
And it certainly isn’t good for people.
Deer is a major host of ticks that carry human diseases such as Lyme Disease. Pennsylvania has the highest rate of Lyme Disease in the nation; Chester County has the highest rate of Lyme Disease in the state!
Deer over-population is harming pollinators and songbirds. Because there are more deer than ever and fewer woodlands than ever, deer are consuming native plants, shrubs, and young trees to the point where many of them are disappearing. This means no young native trees to replace our standing trees as they age and die. It means pollinators cannot find the food they need, and birds can’t find caterpillars to feed their young. The entire web of life, of which humans are a part, is out of balance.
So, the next time you see a hunter, please thank him or her for doing their part to bring balance back into our area.
This article was based on and partly excerpted from Natural Lands article, “Finding Balance.” For more information and the full story on deer overpopulation, read the whole article here: https://natlands.org/news/finding-balance/