Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
Swarthmore College has received permission from the Pennsylvania Game Commission to conduct a cull of the deer population in the CollegeÃ¢€™s Crum Woods. This yearÃ¢€™s cull is scheduled to take place during the CollegeÃ¢€™s winter break, from mid-December through mid-January.
In planning for this initiative the College has taken extensive measures to ensure the safety of all who use the woods. Highly trained sharpshooters who are Pennsylvania Game Commission licensed professionals will conduct the cull at pre-approved sites. The area in which the cull will take place will be posted with No Hunting/No Trespassing signs for the duration of the cull. In addition, the cull will not occur near maintained trails and will take place during times when there is little traffic in the woods.
In 2003 a Conservation and Stewardship Plan for the Crum Woods was completed by Natural Lands Trust and Continental Conservation. That report concluded an overabundance of deer headed the list of factors threatening the woods. Excessive deer browsing is severely limiting the ability of the forest to regenerate naturally and is altering the structure and composition of the forest. For example, deer are consuming nearly all of the native oak saplings. As old oak trees age and die, there are few younger trees left to grow and fill in the canopy and to provide habitat for other animals. Non-native plant species that are not part of the deer diet are replacing the native species in the woods.
Following the delivery of the Conservation and Stewardship Plan, the College’s Crum Woods Stewardship Committee engaged in research and consultation with the local and college communities to consider options for managing the deer population in order to restore the ecosystem of the Crum Woods. Following an extensive review process, the College has concluded that the most humane, forest-science-based, and socially responsible way to manage the deer population in the Crum Woods is to cull the herd.
Information about the research that has been conducted in the woods regarding the deer population is available online, as are answers to frequently asked questions related to this initiative. Questions or comments about this issue can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
– The Members of the Crum Woods Stewardship Committee