Philadelphia Advocates for the Deer (PAD) was formed in 2010 to cultivate respect for the white tailed deer in Fairmount Park and throughout greater Philadelphia. A cooperative venture, PAD is committed to the long term ecological health of Philadelphia parks and respect for indigenous animals. Read our history and a special message from our co-founder Mary Ann Baron.

What is happening to the Deer in Fairmount Park?

In the West Fairmount Park, Wissahickon Valley and Pennypack Park areas of the Fairmount Park system the white-tailed deer who live there are being hunted.  These hunts have been carried out by the Fairmount Park Commission for a number of years, reportedly for the purposes of reducing the impact the white-tailed deer have on the Park system’s vegetation and to reduce automobile collisions with deer.

In response to the deer hunts, local residents, together with their supporters throughout Greater Philadelphia, formed Philadelphia Advocates for the Deer (PAD) in Spring 2010 to cultivate respect for deer and other animals living in Philadelphia’s park system.  PAD is committed to the long-term ecological health of Fairmount Park while respecting the park’s indigenous animals.  Friends of Animals-Pennsylvania (FoA-PA) has joined with PAD to defend the deer.  FoA-PA, a division of the international non-profit Friends of Animals, advocates for animals to live free on their own terms, the importance of biodiversity, and the habitat that is still available for animals in greater Philadelphia.

Why are you against the deer being killed in Fairmount Park?

We believe that as conscious beings the deer have the right to live freely on their own terms in the Park.  Furthermore, we believe that it is possible to address the concerns of the Commission and members of the communities surrounding Fairmount Park without harming the deer.           

Can we move the deer to another location?

In Pennsylvania, and several other states, it is illegal to relocate deer due to concerns about spreading certain diseases that deer are prone to having (e.g. Chronic Wasting Disease).  Even if it were legal to relocate the deer, the capture and transportation of deer is extremely expensive.  Reports of deer management strategies have estimated costs ranging from $400 to $3,000 for the capture and relocation of each deer.  Also, given the number of communities that have promoted deer kills in the U.S. (e.g. Lower Merion Township PA, Valley Forge National Historical Park, Rock Creek Park in Washington DC, Ithaca NY, Poughkeepsie NY, Passaic County NJ) there are not many places that would be willing to accept these deer if they were to be captured and transported elsewhere.

Capture and relocation is also not advisable given its devastating impact upon the deer themselves.  When this strategy has been implemented, a great many of the deer have died in the process of being captured and released into a new location. Reports prepared for both Connecticut and Michigan, who have similar deer issues to Pennsylvania, have argued against capture and relocation — in part, because the mortality rate of this deer management method is so high. Although deer do die in the process of being captured, the death rate is much higher once the deer are released into their new location, in part because once released the deer are more likely to wander onto roads and be hit by automobiles.

Is there anything that can be done?

Absolutely! Although we are opposed to killing the deer, we do not believe that the appropriate response is to do nothing.  Fostering coexistence with free-living animals requires that we be proactive.  In the case of white-tailed deer, it means that we address the reasons for a perceived need to persecute them, and we offer nonviolent solutions. Browse our website for more information on what you can do to make a difference.

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