Swarthmore College to Continue Deer Population Management in 2021-22
For the 12th consecutive year, Swarthmore College will conduct a public hunt of the deer population in the College's Crum Woods, on the west side of the creek. This year's archery hunting will occur in the woods during Pennsylvania's archery season (mid October through November). Signs will be clearly posted in the woods to indicate where and when this will take place.
Hunters will only hunt in pre-approved areas and must abide by all rules and regulations of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Game Commission. The hunters' time on campus has been approved by the College's Covid task force, and they will be expected to follow all Covid guidelines.
Hunters will be active mainly in the early morning and late afternoon and evening hours. If you encounter any problems, please call Swarthmore Public Safety at 610-328-8000.
More information about the College's deer population management is available on the Crum Woods Stewardship website.
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 topped 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 campus and local 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 '83 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.