FOURTH OF AN UNINTENDED SERIES ABOUT MT. LEBANON'S DEER HUNTING ISSUES. I do hope this is the last. But somehow I know it won't.
Note to readers. I never intended to write four articles about Mt. Lebanon and their foolish attempt (my words) to kill deer and now shoot deadly arrows into a highly populated area. These stories simply write themselves. Mt. Lebanon has continued to argue that killing deer will solve traffic accidents, which I am sure it will. But Mt. Lebanon, I feel, has a different agenda for killing deer. Residents have argued with commissioners about deer eating their valuable shrubbery. (Yes. I have a "mole" who lives in Mt. Lebanon who tells me the "real" story). And recently, in an article which appeared in the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, commissioners are actually looking into pedestrians crossing the main roads, streets, and avenues in their community as the real cause for traffic accidents. Huh. See story entitled Mt. Lebanon Is At It Again: Didn't They Learn Enough The Last Time? Or, Do They Just Like Spending Tax Dollars On Frivolity? Or, Do They Just Hate Deer? June 26, 2015.
I do not know why, but the commissioners in Mt. Lebanon are using every excuse in the book to kill deer. They don't seem to get it that the entire Pittsburgh region and beyond are watching this spectacle play out. And it has given me so much to smile and be proud about living in Moon Township "A Community that Loves It's Wild Creatures.
Deer appear in every Allegheny County township. In some, more than others. We have deer in Moon Township, and when we lived in Clinton Township, Robinson Township, and Kennedy Township. We always had deer in our backyards in every house in which we lived in each of the communities I have listed. In Clinton, we not only had deer but coyotes and other wild creatures visiting us daily. We never minded the "interruptions" in our day to day lives. In fact, we welcomed the intrusions. They were a calming diversion in our busy lives.
Now, when driving down my own street in Moon Township, I am careful and drive very slowly because I know that a deer or a herd of deer might be walking or running from between some houses. Our dogs nightly wake us up to bark at the deer who come to close to our back yard. And we're not the only ones:
In a recent article that appeared in the Pittsburgh Tribune Review (Chris Tognerie, The deer eat out of her hand: Ross woman dotes on her backyard wildlife, August 22, 2015):
Within a week of Mary Jo Mozurak moving in, the deer showed up.
She named one of them Bubbles for the tumor on her side. Sabrina, with the dark face, was the mean one, bullying the other does and picking fights with stags. Leeza turned up one day with a broken leg that healed awkwardly. Patches was gentle and always with her fawns, Clyde, Cici and — Mozurak's favorite — Cornelius.
One morning, she saw him through the window, standing atop the stone staircase, staring in at her. So she went outside, scooped up some deer feed and approached.
Cornelius was hungry and unafraid. Mozurak was eager to oblige.
“He ate right out of my hand,” she recalls with a smile. “After that, I'm addicted now. When a day goes by and I don't see him, I'm bummed. I think, maybe tonight he'll come.”
Then her agent told her to check out a house in Ross, though it had none of the features Mozurak was seeking in a home.
When she arrived at the open house, she saw crows — her favorite bird — in the backyard. Then someone said something about deer in the backyard.
Mozurak fell in love.
“So private, and surrounded by woods,” she says. “It was more than I could afford, but I bid on it anyway.”
She added a personal note to the homeowners: I love the property and will care for it always. May God bless you.
At closing, she learned that her bid was not the highest. The note had swayed the sellers.
“It was God working behind the scenes,” Mozurak says.
Then Cornelius and his friends arrived.
“When a deer walks up to you and takes food out of your hand — I mean, I feel like they're mine,” she says. “We have a relationship.”
So every morning she looks for them. And every morning, there they are, up to 10 of them some days, standing in her yard, waiting for her. At night, when Mozurak arrives home from work, they emerge from darkened thickets.
“They're interactive with me, and that's why I love them,” Mozurak says. “I couldn't do this with squirrels.”
Some people think she shouldn't do this with deer, either.
Friends caution that she could get hurt, that they're wild animals and carry disease. State game commission officials say that feeding deer is not illegal, but it is harmful. It increases the risk of disease, makes the deer vulnerable to car crashes, alters their behavioral patterns. The problem is so severe that the commission distributes a brochure, “Please Don't Feed the Deer.”
“They're well meaning people; they do care about the deer,” wildlife conservation officer Dan Puhala says of those like Mozurak. “But they just don't realize what they're doing.”
Mozurak acknowledges such concerns. She counters with her own reasoning.
“People send me articles about why you shouldn't feed the deer, but here's why you should: Their lives are short, and I'm going to make their lives a little bit easier,” she says. “I don't apologize for my love of animals. God gives everybody their interests and talents, and that's just mine."
So, If I represent Moon, and Scott Township commissioners represent the people of Scott, and Mary Jo Mozurak sort of represents the view of some people in Ross Township, why is Mt. Lebanon so angry. As Bill Shoyer, Mt. Lebanon resident so aptly puts it in his letter to the editor, Pittsburgh Post Gazette, August 26, 2015:
The deer fiasco in Mt. Lebanon is, his words, MADE US SOMETHING OF A LAUGHINGSTOCK. To be fair, the entire context of his letter follows:
"I’d like to thank John Hayes for finally putting the Mt. Lebanon deer situation in the proper context (“Deer Reduction Redux: Mt. Lebanon Tries Managed Archery to Remove Deer,” Aug. 23 Outdoors). Too many recent PG articles have focused on the small contingent of deer management opponents and (to my mind) made us something of a laughingstock. Maybe we’ll see some progress this fall."
Finally, public officials who matter are standing up to Mt. Lebanon and it's preparation to shoot arrows into crowded spaces. Although Mt. Lebanon purchased the twenty-five acre Twin Hill's Park from Scott Township in 1995, the park is still in Scott Township, and Scott residents and commissioners are taking a stand against archery hunting in the park (Pittsburgh Post Gazette, SCOTT SAYS NO TO MT. LEBANON ON DEER CULLING IN TWIN HILLS PARK, Friday, August 28, 2015).
NOT IN MY YARD. nO BOWS AND ARROWS. NO HUNTING. NO WAY
(Signs appearing around Scott Township to warn Mt. Lebanon hunters to stay away)
In this article, Scott Township solicitor Robert McTiernan "said he had spoken to Mt. Lebanon officials and 'they are willing to abide by [Scott Township's] wishes.'" In the same article, MT. LEBANON RESIDENT (who lives near Twin Hills' Park) Barbara Sollenberger, an attorney, "criticized Mt. Lebanon officials who, she said, blame deer instead of fast drivers for the community's speeding accidents. Some vehicles are 32 - 40 mph over the speed limit and at least one was clocked at 70 mph on heavily traveled Washington Road near the Galleria Shopping mall. They're not wanting to blame anyone else but the deer, she stated. We're appalled by the fact that we may have this kind of intrusion in our community for five months."
Scott Township commissioner Bill Wells agrees. He states, in the article, "I, for one, wouldn't want to see hunting in our parks because someone is going to get hurt. I don't want to see children playing with arrows flying by."
From all of the people with whom I have spoken, many of the same sentiments are out there, including from many Mt. Lebanon residents.
Finally, according to Doris Lin, Animal Rights Expert (How Many People are Killed or Injured in Hunting Accidents? in ABOUT NEWS, 2015)
Question: How Many People are Killed or Injured in Hunting Accidents?
According to the International Hunter Education Association,approximately 1,000 people in the US and Canada are accidentally shot by hunters every year, and just under a hundred of those accidents are fatalities. Most victims are hunters, but non-hunters are also sometimes killed or injured. Although some other forms of recreation cause more fatalities, hunting is one of the few activities that endangers the entire community, and not just the willing participants.
And these are hunters in woods where other hunters know they are there. I guess Mt. Lebanon is willing to take that risk. I'm glad I'm not a commissioner. That's why they get paid the big "bucks." (pun intended)