City of Syracuse Reports Results of Deer Management Program Shortened by Covid-19 Pandemic

Syracuse, N.Y. – The City of Syracuse reported the results of its 2021 deer management program. 65 deer were removed during the months of February and March 2021. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the start of the program was delayed and occurred over a two month period, less than half the length of last year’s program.

The work, funded by Onondaga County, was completed by trained wildlife managers from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The USDA submitted a summary report to the City this spring. The program was able to provide more than 1,904 pounds of venison, equivalent to about 5,700 meals for donation.

“Addressing the overpopulation of deer in the City will take a sustained effort over multiple years, so continuing the deer management program this past winter, despite the challenges of the pandemic, was important,” said Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh. “This is an important public health and safety priority. I want to thank County Executive Ryan McMahon and the County Legislature for ensuring there would be funding for the program at a time of real financial uncertainty for local government.”

USDA conducted its first deer management work in the City in the winter of 2019-20. 159 deer were removed over a four month period.

“Like so many other efforts this past year, COVID presented some major obstacles to the implementation of the tick and deer plan,” said Fifth District Common Councilor Joe Driscoll, who has worked closely with government and neighborhood representatives to plan and implement tick and deer management programs. “I’m proud of all our partners on this project, who continued to push forward despite the challenges. Even with a reduced timeline and resources, we’ve still netted a great result, all things considered.”

Deer management is one component of the City’s integrated Tick and Deer Management Plan. Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh appointed a citizen’s advisory group to make recommendations on how to address the impacts of deer overpopulation, including deer-motor vehicle accidents; damage to the local ecosystem, gardens and parks; and public health risks such as Lyme Disease.

The long term plan, authorized by Mayor Walsh and the Common Council, also recommends public outreach and education. Working with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Onondaga County and with the support of Onondaga County, the City will conduct a tick borne illness virtual workshop on May 20.

The Tick and Deer Management Advisory Group will reconvene this summer to develop updated recommendations for the program moving forward. The plans will be reported to the Common Council and the Mayor for approval later this year. Property owners who have a property they want to be considered for deer management activities can contact the Parks Department by phone at (315) 473-4330 or by email at parks@syrgov.net.