Can neighbors offer their backyards? Probably not. Syracuse deer culling explained

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SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) – A new plan to reduce the deer population in the City of Syracuse will get underway this week.

The plan to cull the excessive number of deer was approved by the city common council in October, not to exceed $55,000. Starting the first week of December, USDA wildlife managers or sharpshooters will start the process and the venison will be donated to the Food Bank of CNY.

“The deer population is creating three primary concerns and it’s something we at city hall hear regularly about from neighbors,” said Director of City Initiatives Greg Loh.

Those concerns include vehicle-deer collisions, the impact of excessive grazing on parks and the ecosystem and the tick population.

The NYS DEC reports that Onondaga County is one of several parts of the state where the overabundance of urban and suburban deer is “most common.” A recent study of Syracuse’s east side estimated the number of deer at about 50 per square mile, as reported in the city’s Tick and Deer Management Plan.

The culling is expected to continue through March of next year.

For safety reasons, the sites are not made public but are located on the east side, west side and south side of Syracuse.

While neighbors have offered their backyards for use, Loh said it is unlikely the area will meet the strict standards set by the state of New York.

“Any of the places where the deer managers are going to be working are 500 feet in all directions from any occupied dwelling,” added Loh, “usually what we hear is the work has been completed and no one knows that they have been there.”

The culling will take place from dusk to dawn. Specially trained sharpshooters will use silencers and Loh said each location will be cleared for people using thermal imaging and motion detectors, so it is unlikely neighbors will hear or see the crews.

“There should be no wildlife managers in neighborhoods or on people’s property,” explained Loh, “the property owners selected for culling have given express written permission to the city and the USDA and well aware.”

Loh recommends if you notice something suspicious in your backyard, call 911.

Syracuse is one of five municipalities in Onondaga county that participate in culling. Camillus, Manlius, Fayetteville and DeWitt are the others.

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