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.
Thirty-seven deer were culled in the first round of sharpshooting in the Crum Woods completed over break. The status of the cull was announced in the official news release on the subject provided by Jeff Jabco who supervised the sharpshooting as the Co-Chair of the Crum Woods Stewardship Committee and the College’s Head of Grounds. Hunters licensed by the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) used bow and arrows, Jabco stated in an e-mail. This hunt was in accordance with new regulations passed by the PGC in the spring of 2009 which requires “all private landholders and municipalities to allow hunting in conjunction with any cull.” The meat from the hunt was donated to Chester City Team Ministries.
There was no “target number” of deer to cull this year, Jabco stated in the same e-mail. “The Crum Woods Stewardship Committee is now embarking on a program of monitoring in the woods to evaluate deer pressure on the revegetation and growth of native trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants. The results of this monitoring process will inform the committee about future deer culls,” he said.
The completion of this first cull comes after a lengthy process to address concerns about an overabundance of deer in the Crum inspired by a 2003 report commissioned by the Committee that identified deer as a “profound” threat to the sustainability of the woods, according to the Commission’s website. The Board of Managers accepted the CWSC’s recommendation that a cull be carried out in April 2008. But the process was delayed by the PGC’s reviewed of the College’s application to carry out the cull their new regulations last spring.
While the Committee has stressed that the decision to use a cull to address deer overpopulation was the best solution possible, some students and members of the community felt that not all possibilities were given due consideration. Ethan Bogdan ‘13 wrote an editorial for the Daily Gazette in November 2008 in which he argued for using a contraceptive approach as a more ethical means of managing the Crum’s deer. Bogdan reemphasized his preference for the use of contraceptives to sharpshooters.
Bogdan also raised questions about the number of deer culled based on the difference between the recommended number of deer to be culled and the actual number that was culled. “Particularly in light of the fact that National Lands Trust and Continental Conservation rated the ‘forest health and integrity’ of the Crum Woods ‘fair to very good’ in 2003, with Natural Resource Consultants adding that it might take only a few years for the Woods to recover, this apparent disparity [between the number of deer culled and the number of deer Shissler recommended culling] could cast significant doubt as to the immediacy of the threat posed by overpopulation – an immediacy upon which many of the justifications for hunting were originally premised,” Bogdan stated in an e-mail.
However, Allegra Black ‘11, who has both conducted research on deer herbivory in the Crum and was a vocal participant in the online debate following Bogdan’s November 2008 editorial, said that she was glad the cull had finally been carried out, “…because our ecosystem was in dire need of it…” Black added, “Culls are a routine part of game management in both metropolitan and rural areas, and the debate just got way too ridiculous because of [Bogdan’s editorial].”
Two seasons of culls were planned originally, according to Jabco. Plans for additional culls will be determined by the results of the monitoring process of the Crum conducted by the Committee.