Second Deer Cull Authorized; Update from the Committee

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 College̢۪s Crum Woods for a second consecutive year. This year̢۪s cull is scheduled to take place during the College̢۪s winter break, from mid-December through mid-January.

In planning for this initiative the College has once again 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 preapproved sites. The areas in which the cull will take place will be posted for the duration of the cull, which will occur 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 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.

The results of population management measures on the health and vitality of the overall forest ecosystem are actively being studied at the College. A research-based monitoring program, designed and implemented by Roger Latham of Continental Conservation (and former Swarthmore biology professor), is assessing the forest ecosystem’s response to the reduced number of deer in the woods. This research primarily studies the health and number of plants in the woods with a focus on the native species that deer are most likely to consume.

Further 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

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