Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
The Board of Managers surprised everyone when they announced last week that they were no longer interested in culling the deer population in Crum Woods.
Over the last year, different solutions have been proposed for the burgeoning deer population in the woods around Swarthmore. While the creatures are cute, some said, their vast numbers were a threat to the delicate ecosystem of the Crum and to the deer themselves. To maintain a safe healthy woodland, the BOM decided after lengthy negotiations to kill off some of the deer. To avoid alarming small children, this process has been referred to consistently as “culling”.
But now, in a surprising turn of events, it seems that the BOM would rather let the deer live.
The new plan was born during a little-known Swarthmore tradition of “beating the bounds”, in which the BOM walks the perimeter of the College’s land holdings in order to symbolically indicate Swarthmore’s continued influence over the land.
During this walk, which takes place every other year on January 1st, the assembled Board members happened upon a group of deer drinking water from the river. The three deer – a mother and two fauns – formed a picturesque tableau by the side of the creek, and the BOM paused to watch. According to one Board member who wished to remain anonymous, several of the Board’s most senior members were heard to utter a faint but distinct, “Awwwww.”
Upon returning to campus, the BOM was unable to bring itself to fully commit to the deer culling plan. Although they have continued to make plans to cull the deer, insiders say that many BOM members have lost the coldhearted bloodlust necessary to go through with the original decision. And ultimately, it seems that the BOM will spare the adorable creatures after all.
However, all are agreed that the deer cannot continue to inhabit the Crum en masse, and that some will still need to be relocated even if their lives are spared. To that end, the BOM is looking for ways to turn the deer problem into a cash cow by using the animals as a draw for prospective students and tourists.
Plans are currently underway to add a farm and petting zoo to the plans for the Inn that is being developed by the train station.