NORTH SIDE (KDKA) — They’ve come in from the woods and the forests and made themselves at home in our yards and flower gardens.
Unchecked deer populations are thriving throughout our suburbs and even our urban areas, posing a major threat to drivers.
Just last week, a car hit a deer on Grant Street downtown and a deer caused the Liberty Tubes to be shut down.
A USDA survey showed that the city’s four major parks are home to hundreds of deer who have over-browsed the woods and who often wander on to busy streets nearby causing more than 100 car accidents in the city each year.
Their numbers are only growing, primarily because no one hunts them, but also because people feed them.
Homeowners at the edge of Riverview Park on the North Side spread out feed corn in their backyard.
“This supports artificial populations that are already very high and the last thing we need to do is feed the deer,” Gary Fujak with the Pennsylvania Game Commission said.
On Rochester Road in the North Hills, a man has turned his property into a nature reserve feeding wild turkeys, ducks and deer which the Game Commission says have been the cause of several collisions.
Feeding deer is not illegal in the state, but Ross homeowner Karla Maruca says her neighbor’s feeding of the deer has caused the deer to move in and eat the flowers and shrubs as well.
She’s working with the township to implement a feeding ban.
“We have to stop the feeding,” Maruca said. “We’re killing our environment.”
Back in Riverview Park, the deer don’t scatter when approached by humans and they inch closer with the hope of a handout.
“This isn’t normal. They’re habituated to humans – they’re used to people being around them and feeding them,” Fujak said.
Sheehan: “It’s like a trained deer.”
Fujak: “Yes, it’s not natural. It’s not healthy.”
Pennsylvania leads the nation in accidents involving deer and some communities have invited sharpshooters from the USDA to cull their numbers.
Look for others to adopt feeding bans.