SALISBURY TOWNSHIP BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
Legend has it the Sheriff of Nottingham, in Nottinghamshire, north of London, England, was the arch nemesis of Robin Hood because the sheriff wanted to prevent the outlaw from poaching the king’s deer in Sherwood Forest.
The good residents of Nottingham Road in Lehigh Parkway North, Salisbury Township, theoretically might wish for an archer such as Robin Hood in their battle with what they say are herds of deer trampling their homes’ landscaped lawns and eating their properties’ flower gardens.
“They [the deer] are now causing considerable damage to our properties and have become a health hazard,” Dr. Philip Tighe said at the Aug. 23 Salisbury Township Board of Commissioners meeting.
Tighe was one of approximately 16 residents who say the deer are causing tick, Lyme disease, deer feces and car-accident problems in their upscale western Salisbury neighborhood.
A petition with 35 signatures requesting action by township officials to mitigate the deer problem was presented by Cathy Tighe to Salisbury Township Manager Cathy Bonaskiewich.
Lehigh Parkway North in Salisbury is one of the most desirable residential enclaves in Lehigh County, where a residential property can fetch $700,000 or more, according to the website redfin.
Residents say the deer are from the adjacent Allentown Parkway, which is in the City of Allentown.
Allentown’s Lehigh Parkway is located off Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Lehigh Parkway North, Lehigh Parkway South, South 24th Street, Fish Hatchery Road, Park Drive and South Jefferson Street.
Township commissioners by consensus instructed Bonaskiewich to write a letter to City of Allentown officials about controlling the deer population in Lehigh Parkway.
“We’ll have to look at it and see what we can come up with,” Salisbury Township Board of Commissioners President Robert Martucci Jr. told a reporter for The Press after the meeting.
After the meeting, Bonaskiewich told a reporter for The Press that deer mitigation would need to be handled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Division of Wildlife Services.
“We have used them for our goose problem in the park [Laubach] and they were great about that,” Martucci said during the meeting.
Bonaskiewich said Allentown officials need to address the deer problem in Lehigh Parkway.“They’re going to have to take care of it. They’re the property owner. Now if it’s a matter of cost-sharing, we can discuss that,” Bonaskiewich told a reporter for The Press after the meeting.
“It would have to be a controlled kill,” Bonaskiewich said. “They can’t capture them. Deer have a very high-anxiety level. And that would kill them.”
Salisbury contracts with the USDA for its Canada Geese mitigation program in Laubach Park on the township’s east side. The township spends $2,500 each spring to control the geese. The program’s first year cost the township $10,000.
Township officials estimate reducing the deer population would cost much more.
It’s uncertain what the solution to the deer problem would be.
An archer or sharp shooter to kill the deer is considered impractical, dangerous and possibly illegal because of the residential neighborhood. Other techniques might include poisoning the deer.
Whatever technique is used, there’s the matter of removing the deer carcass, which can be expensive, labor-intensive and time-consuming.
“I think this issue is going to be costly, to tranquilize and transport,” Martucci said. “Even if you use archery, it’s [the deer] going to drop in someone’s yard.”
The residents of Nottingham Road want something done.
“We live in the Parkway neighborhood which borders the Lehigh Parkway city park,” Tighe said. “About 10 years ago, we would see an occasional deer, which would wander up from the Parkway.
“We thought they were quite cute and sometimes in spring a cute spotted fawn could be seen trailing the mother.
“Over the last 10 years, the deer have become quite prolific and herds of deer now numbering several hundred live in our neighborhood,” Tighe said, adding, “They have no natural predators and continue to multiply at an astonishing rate.
“They eat our flowers and shrubs, damage our fences and trees and deposit feces all over our properties. It is now difficult to let our grandchildren play on the lawns because of deer feces everywhere,” Tighe said.
“They carry ticks, which are a major cause of Lyme disease,” Tighe continued. “I personally know of three people who have contracted Lyme disease in recent years. All live within one block of my home.
“There has also been an increase in auto accidents due to collisions with deer. In our neighborhood, this has occurred mostly on 24th Street and Lehigh Parkway North.
Tighe said residents have planted deer-resistant plants, have had professionals annually spray properties and have used commercial products “to no avail.”
The USDA, Division of Wildlife Services, can reduce the number of deer if contacted by local governments, mainly Salisbury and Allentown, according to Tighe.
“We would very much appreciate if Salisbury Township, in cooperation with the City of Allentown, attemptS to reduce the number of deer in our neighborhood,” Tighe said.
“Lehigh Parkway is their [Allentown] property and they’re not doing any population control,” township Commissioner Joanne Ackerman said.
“They’re [the deer] up in your neighborhood because there isn’t enough food there [Lehigh Parkway],” Ackerman asserted.
“You’ve got to get Allentown involved,” Ackerman said.
“We’re going to do that,” Board of Commissioners Vice President Debra Brinton said.
“I used to go out and chase them [the deer] and now they look at me and come at me,” Tighe said. “We’re animal lovers. It’s a tough situation,” Tighe said.
“There was a deer in my yard and I’ve lived there for 44 years and never had any deer,” Ackerman, who lives in the Green Acres area west of 24th Street, said.
“It’s not just that area,” Robert Agonis said, referring to Lehigh Parkway North. Agonis said the Meadowbrook area where he lives also has a deer problem. Meadowbrook is near Interstate 78.
There are about 1.25 million collisions between cars and deer, elk, and moose annually in the United States, according to State Farm, with 150 human fatalities, and many human injuries.
According to the Pennsylvania Game Commission website, predators that prey on deer are coyotes, bears and bobcats, but these have been reduced in numbers.
“Deer are ‘browsers.’ They primarily eat leaves, twigs and shoots of young trees, shrubs and wildflowers. In many areas, deer have overeaten the forest,” states the Penn State Extension website.
“In 2001, Pennsylvania had an estimated 1.5 million deer, about 30 deer per square mile,” according to Penn State Extension.
A decline in recreational hunting is said to have contributed to an overpopulation of deer.
“Deer management has not been entirely effective in our state. Politics and tradition have worked against good management. Buck (male or ‘antlered’ deer) hunting in the state has been part of Pennsylvania’s heritage. For decades, hunters resisted killing doe,” according to Penn State.
“Research shows that the only way to control the overall deer population is to properly reduce the number of doe through hunting,” the Penn State website claims.
The Humane Society of the United States opposes lethal deer control.
Sterilization can cost more than $2,500 per head. Birth-control vaccines require a second-year booster shot, so a deer must be tracked again.
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, the Commonwealth led the United States in confirmed cases of Lyme disease for three straight years. In 2016, there were 11,443 confirmed cases of Lyme disease in Pennsylvania.
Lyme disease can be transmitted to humans and animals by an infected black-legged tick, known as a deer tick, which have been found in all 67 counties.
Nationally, reported cases of Lyme disease have tripled since the early 1990s, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.