We have seen an uptick in complaints about the abundance of deer and the negative consequences that can result from their presence. The overpopulation of deer can lead to increases in automobile accidents, disease, and damage to landscaping and crops. Deer overpopulation can also threaten the biodiversity of woodlands because deer tend to feed on buds, seedlings, and shoots of native species, which in turn promotes the establishment of aggressive, non-native plants.
Why are there so many deer in the southeast region of PA? There are several reasons. Over the years, residential development has encroached on their habitat, which has pushed them into limited forested areas that are between developments. In addition, there are few natural predators that they have to worry about.
This is not the first time that deer overpopulation has been a hot topic in East Bradford. There was a similar outcry in 2004 when the Township collected public feedback during the process to update the Comprehensive Plan (note that the Plan was further updated in 2016). The public comment received at that time led to a recommendation that the Township investigate deer population control mechanisms. So, throughout 2005 and 2006, the Township Environmental Advisory Council (EAC) worked with experts and state agencies to study this problem. This process resulted in several conclusions and actions:
- One of the most fundamental realizations was that township government does not have any regulatory oversight or authority when it comes to community-wide wildlife management. That authority rests with the Commonwealth. So, ultimately, the responsibility for deer (and other wildlife) management resides with individual property owners.
- With that in mind, the Township also recognized that it is a significant landowner. Our open space program has resulted in the Township owning roughly 700 acres. Therefore, the EAC recommended that the Township actively hunt its properties. We started doing this in 2006 and continue to hunt our properties today. The Township works collaboratively with the Brandywine Valley Archery Club (BVAC) to archery hunt Township lands. These hunters go through an annual application and testing process and the Club rules and regulations incentivize hunting practices that will aid in herd size reduction. Archery hunting was chosen because it is generally more compatible with other public recreational uses. You can learn more about this program on the BVAC page.
- The other recommendation that came out of the EAC’s review 15 years ago was that the Township serve as an informational resource for property owners who want to address deer-related concerns on their own property. This is an area where we can do more. So, in the weeks and months ahead, we will add deer-related information on the Animal Services & Control page. If this topic is of interest to you, please visit this webpage for additional information and resources.
Collectively, as property owners, we can take steps to reduce the deer population and manage the impacts.