The Crum Woods Stewardship Committee held a forum for students last night to field questions about its recommendation to hire a sharpshooter to help control high deer population, which has been a serious concern for the last several years. The forum featured Bryon Shissler, who is the President for Natural Resource Consultants, a consultant company that specializes in controlling deer population, and Swarthmore’s consultant.
The issue of the overabundance of deer threatening the health of Crum Woods was initially raised in 2003, in a report assessing the Woods’ viability, according to a statement by the committee. Since 2004, the Committee has confirmed the seriousness of the issue, assessed many different solutions, and chosen sharpshooting as the most “humane, effective and socially responsible method to protect and restore the diverse ecosystems that have been placed at risk by the overabundance of deer in the woods,” according to the statement. The latest forum helped educated interested students.
Zach Eichenwald ’10 initiated the forum by introducing the panel members and detailing the degenerative effects of the deer on the growth of the forest. Shissler took over and explained the context of Swarthmore’s problem. “Often, there is a confusion between science and values,” he said. “People confuse what it is they want to achieve by the science.” Since Swarthmore explicitly stated the goal of maintain deer population in harmony with the growth of the forest, Shissler said the scientific solutions became clearer.
Among the various methods, introducing cougars and other natural predators was ruled out as unreasonable and fertility control is too new and experimental of a technology to be effective. “Human Directed Mortality,” was the other broad option, of which included three other main possibilities – recreational hunting, capture and euthanasia, and sharpshooting.
Shissler explained the process of sharpshooting: “Deer are lured to an area with bait under very controlled decisions, with intervened vegetation removed and the animals are shot in the head immediately. It is recognized as a humane way to kill [the deer],” he said.
After his summary of the issue, the floor was opened to questions from the small group of students that attended.