Deer Culls used to manage suburban deer create a public safety issue and provide only a short term solution, requiring a perpetual killing program.  Examples of the Perpetual, Annual Deer Cull.  Many people don't want their neighborhood deer to be slaughtered.  Although degraded habitat is a major cause for the decline of the U.S. deer population, suburbs often provide excellent deer habitat.  Deer are edge dwellers, living at the interface of the meadow and the thick forest.  A lush suburban habitat can support more deer, the carrying capacity, than a forest.  Communities wanting fewer deer can reduce the carrying capacity (see figure above) using fences, deer resistant landscaping and repellents.  Examples of  other non-lethal approaches News below for contraception, sterilization, and relocation.  A ban on feeding deer is often a first approach, sometimes a required approach.  Also a deer population survey.

Deer respond to a cull with increased fertility, producing more twins and triplets, and a larger proportion of female fawns that will further increase the deer population -- the rebound effect in the figure above [research support] --compensatory reproduction, also observed in coyote populations Light to moderate hunting, as in many urban culls, does not change the long-run total deer population in an otherwise stable environment.  More dramatic culls, keeping the deer population at about 50 or 60 percent of the carrying capacity, achieves the maximum sustainable yield, the largest number of deer than can be killed annually.  Also, other deer attracted by available food may migrate into the area, although suburban does have very small ranges and migration rates will depend on local factors.  A sterile doe will discourage new deer from entering her territory, the "placeholder" effect, and eat food that would result in more fawns from fertile does. 

The result of a cull is a future, perpetual negative cash outlay for communities and lots of slaughtered deer.  Cost analysis of urban deer cull programs typically ignores the future cost of maintaining the program and also ignores the intrinsic value of the life of each deer.   The January 2018 issue of Wildlife Professional advises that it is a myth that wildlife populations need to be hunted or harvested to control populations [p. 28].  

Deer exterminators at work using tools of the trade: clover trap and bolt gun.


Deer culls using sharpshooters or bow hunters may not be feasible in suburban environments because of public safety concerns.  Bow hunting is becoming more popular, but even under the best conditions a significant number of deer are likely to be wounded [graphic examples] and not recovered by archers, 50 percent rates are reported in the literature.  Although many hunters will not participate in an urban cull, considering it an extermination rather than a hunt, cities often find others willing to pay a license fee to participate.  Professional sharpshooters improve public safety and kill efficiency, but costs run from about $300 to $1,000 per deer. At right a video of the trap and kill method used by many deer exterminators, including Cornell. 

Confusing the public debate are the wide range of unsupported optimal deer density recommendations presented to the public as scientific management goals (deer density and forest regeneration) and the concept that deer culls can generally be used to reduce the risk of Lyme disease, contrary to most of the current research. Some states are requiring hunting as the only method of deer control in suburban areas.  In all cases, decision makers should be aware that they are designing the future herd based on the management method.  
Deer Contraception

Products: Gonacon, Spayvac a PZP (porcine zona pellucid)  Cost per deer can be in the two hundred dollar range, but will vary depending local labor costs, number of deer and related issues.  Birth control needs to be reapplied after a few years, up to six years for Spayvac, but the time is being extended as the technology develops.  Success rates are often reported to be in the 90 to 95 percent range.  This approach generally has a lower risk of deer fatalities than sterilization.  
      A private effort to experiment with contraception in British Columbia. The U.S. Humane Society provides this service, contact information and an example proposal.  The nonprofit Science and Conservation Center in Billings, Montana, has many years experience working with horses, deer, and other animals.   On July 6, 2017, the EPA approved an application to register ZonaStat-H, a fertility control vaccine that will provide a humane management tool for managers of deer populations.

News

... We present data from 6 surgical sterilization sites with geographically open populations in California, Maryland, Michigan, New York, Ohio, and Virginia, USA. From 2012 to 2020 we sterilized 493 deer ...  Four years after initial treatment, we documented an average population reduction of ~45% (29%–56%). During the first year, the average cost per deer sterilized at locations where bait was used was US$1,185 ($927–$1,572). Surgical sterilization projects demonstrate that significant reductions in local deer densities using high-percentage, surgical sterilization programs can be achieved in non-insular locations ...

Farmington Hills takes steps to adopt a deer management plan September 2, 2021 Michigan, C&G Newspapers
... Of the various options that have been suggested for how to manage the deer population, Farmington Hills Council member Ken Massey said he is not satisfied with the “only option” the DNR has been pushing for, which is to kill them... “If there is a birth control available for the does, it would make sense ...

Urban deer in Greater Victoria community to be put on birth control  August 24 2021 British Columbia, CBC.ca 
... Esquimalt will be the second Greater Victoria community to use birth control to manage the population of urban deer as part of a research project...Jason Fisher, adjunct professor at the University of Victoria's School of Environmental Studies, is leading the Esquimalt Deer Research ...
     Esquimalt launches birth control study for urban deer July 19, 2021 British Coliumbia, Victoria News
... Esquimalt will begin the work of vaccinating does with immunocontraceptives this summer ... Before the study, a survey was sent to local households, inviting residents to weigh in about their own experiences and location of deer interactions. Together, these steps helped inform the immunocontraceptive plan...

... HogStop ... “It’s an all-natural feed bait that is made out of ingredients we feed the cattle and deer, and we just combined it in such a way to use it on feral hogs to make the boars sterile,”  ...

Esquimalt proceeding with birth control study on deer June 30, 2021 British Columbia, Saanich News
... The research is being done by the University of Victoria Applied Conservation Macro Ecology Lab.  This summer, a capture team consisting of a wildlife veterinarian and field technicians will tag 20 female control deer using darts...

... Former Senator Raymond Lesniak kicked off the event by breaking the news that the Lesniak Institute will be working with advocates and Union County officials to establish a deer fertility control program in Union County...  In their research, they found that fertility control programs could gradually reduce the deer population in their neighborhood to a sustainable size without unnecessary lethal force...

An Overview of Wildlife Fertility Control April 13, 2021 Pennsylvania, Botstiber Institute for Wildlife Fertility Control
... The Botstiber Institute for Wildlife Fertility Control is excited to share the new educational film, “An Overview of Wildlife Fertility Control,” on April 20, 2021 at 1:00pm EDT... This film was created with the intention of educating the public and creating connections between wildlife managers, researchers and advocates...

Town considers deer options, no-feeding ordinance March 19, 2021 Washington, Whidbey News-Times
... the state Department of Fish and Wildlife said there’s nothing currently available [birth control] for the resident ungulates who roam the streets of the town... it hasn’t been used on blacktail deer... the mayor found trapping and killing to be an “ugly” and “extreme” response to the overpopulation problem...

Head of the Harbor village,  Hunters kill tagged deer used in study, researcher says November 16, 2020 New York, Newsday
... "Killing tagged deer is very harmful to the research, since each one provides us with information on how long the contraceptive vaccine lasts and helps us understand how deer move around the village," Tufts University researcher Allen Rutberg ...

... the project has managed to vaccinate approximately 75 per cent of Oak Bay’s deer population with birth control.  “I’d say 70 to 80 per cent of the vaccinated does will be effectively contracepted so that means only 20 to 30 percent of them will have fawns compared to 95 per cent will have fawns without the vaccine,”  [ wildlife veterinarian Adam Hering] ...

South Euclid council approves culling deer with sharpshooters September 30, 2020 Ohio, cleveland.com
... a 7-0 vote ... to enter into an agreement with the USDA’s wildlife division for the culling program ...survey showed that 32.7 percent of respondents strongly favored using lethal means ... 48.8 percent favored using non-lethal means, such as sterilization or contraceptives, as compared to lethal means...

Free Webinar Addresses Multi-Year Reversible Contraception For Wild Horses And Deer August 14, 2020 Botstiber Institute for Wildlife Fertility Control 
... The Botstiber Institute for Wildlife Fertility Control (BIWFC) will host a free webinar addressing the development, assessment and application of PZP-22 controlled-release vaccine as a wildlife management tool, with a focus on wild horses and deer.  "PZP-22: Multi-Year Reversible Contraception for Wild Horses and Deer" is scheduled for Tuesday, August 18 at 1:00 PM (EDT)... For more information or to register visit wildlifefertilitycontrol.org/pzp22/...

Oak Bay deer project off to promising start June 9, 2020 British Columbia, CHEK News
... “The only fawns we’ve seen have been from our control group of deers. So that means they’re the does that did not receive the contraceptive”  ... Sixty female dear were given birth control, while a control group of 20, tagged with pink collars were left alone...

... Now in year two of six, the study is intended to test delivery methods and technologies for a long-lasting form of the immunocontraceptive PZP, which costs about $500 per deer to administer, plus $100 for dart-delivered annual boosters...

...This appears to be the first recent hunt the National Park Service has allowed on Fire Island, a 32-mile-long barrier island that sits off Suffolk’s southern coast... the park was created in 1964, says 54 deer were hunted from 1988 to 1989; then from 1993 to 2009, immunocontraception roughly halved the number of deer ...

Oak Bay ups deer management budget to $96,100 for 2020 February 25, 2020 British Columbia, BC Local News
... The deer vaccination program will continue in Oak Bay in 2020 as the province approved $42,366 in funding ... In 2019 more than 650 Oak Bay property owners volunteered access to their properties so the Urban Wildlife Stewardship Society crew could tag and inject does with the immuno-contraceptive...





Sterilization

While spaying can be expensive, $1,000 per deer, because of high labor costs, local volunteers can bring costs down.  A $500 per deer cost can be achieved.  In many states, deer contraception is illegal.  Sterilization is typically 97 to 100 percent effective and only needs to be done once, but may result in the death or injury of some deer . This field surgery requires more supplies and equipment than contraception so easier access to deer such as through small roads becomes an issue.  Tubal ligation requires less intervention than spaying or ovariectomy, but will result in does going into heat which may attract bucks into the area.  Ovariectomy avoids this problem. 
Follow the progress of Maryland's first deer sterilization program at Wildlife Rescue.  A recent case example from New York.  A program in Clifton, Ohio.  A project focusing on bucks in State Island, New York.  A website with video of the sterilization project in San Jose, California, where the deer population has declined more than desired.  The project is described in this peer reviewed paper which also investigates an anomalous result from a sterilization project at Cornell.  

News

Farmington Hills council looks at regional, local deer solutions July 26, 2021 Michigan, Farmington Voice
... Council member Ken Massey pointed out most residents surveyed oppose killing deer. He suggested exploring new technologies that eliminate the deer’s ability to reproduce.  Farmer said the state does not allow use of those methods, although Ann Arbor got permission to test surgical sterilization...

... Two years ago the town's voters supported the adoption of a deer management plan that would use non-lethal means ... include relocating the deer or sterilizing the animals... The Division of Fish & Wildlife, however, rejected the town's application ...

... “This is the single best approach, and it will have more impact over time, and we will keep funding it. We have to; we have to keep that continuity,” ... a controlled cull ... would have had “unintended consequences” and “a lot of problems,” the mayor said...
... According to the city’s report, the total deer population went from an estimated 2,053 in project year one (from 2016 to 2017) to an estimated 1,555 in project year 4 (from 2019 to 2020) ...

... In past committee meetings, it was decided that the city would take a holistic approach to thinning the deer population... would include, in addition to utilizing sharpshooters, awaiting funding to use a sterilization method being championed by Cuyahoga County Councilwoman and South Euclid resident Sunny Simon...
... rather than sharpshooters or bow hunters — to control the suburb’s deer population... Simon told the committee, the method could save the city money by providing a long-term solution rather than repeatedly spending money on sharpshooters...

... on his six surgical sterilization sites with open populations (not fenced or island environments) ... They noted an average reduction in deer abundance of 25% from Year 1 to Year 2. At research sites with 4 years of sterilization treatment (4 sites), they noted an average total reduction of 45%... [Webinar scheduled for November 17]

... Written permission of each homeowner must be obtained before members of the nonprofit bowhunters group can enter a property... Saddle River originally approved a program of deer sterilization offered for free by an area veterinarian. However, the state eventually denied the program...

... if your issue is flowers in a neighborhood, it makes no sense to wipe out a family of deer and have 50 more come in. ... DeNicola told of how contraception or sterilization can be expensive, at a cost of about $1,000 per deer, but that it can be a more effective way of reducing the number of deer within a community...

...last October, when a survey of residents showed ... contraception or sterilization, 48.8 percent were in support... through bow hunting, perhaps 20 percent of the deer can be captured, but that through the dart/surgical method he described, he can capture 100 percent of the city’s deer. “I can sterilize all of the females ...

... We have temporarily placed our successful deer sterilization contract on hold for FY2 ... As of April, the city said 93 percent of Staten Island’s antlered deer had been sterilized ...  the price tag ballooned by nearly $1 million after the contractor said it found more deer than it had expected, with more than 2,000 counted...
... Asked by Advance/SILive.com on Wednesday how he planned to continue curbing and maintaining the Island’s deer population when the program was still on hold, de Blasio was unable to articulate a plan for how the city would do so in lieu of the vasectomy program...

Deer population down 24% in Staten Island  May 27, 2020 New York, abc7NY
... The study also found an 84% decrease in births since the program began, which is connected to the number of deer sterilized in a bid to drive down the population...
SILive
... As of April, the city said 93% of the antlered males on Staten Island had been sterilized... The program saw the biggest population decrease of 10.4% from 2019 to 2020 when the borough’s herd dropped from 1,737 in 2019 to 1,555 in 2020...

Ann Arbor Year Four Summary Report May 26, 2020 Michigan, White Buffalo
... No sterilization efforts were conducted during Year 4 ... The overall cost of the sterilization effort was $159,815.26, over four years, resulting in a 49% reduction in deer within the 2.8 mi2 area of the SSA and NSA. Sharpshooting efforts cost $255,800.49, over the four years, resulting in a 58% reduction in deer over an 8.3 mi2 area ...



Relocation, Translocation

A common objection to relocation is that many deer perish as a result, since deer are flight animals and easily stressed by any constraint. A 2008 study in Texas where there had been significant experience with Trap, Transport, and Transplant concludes "reasonable survival rates can be achieved." (see research below).  Costs can be as low as $150 to 200 per deer. As the information below suggests, success varies widely depending on circumstances. Significant deer mortality may result from from the difficulty of adjusting to a new environment and the transportation stress, although wild deer are routinely transported for deer research.  As with a cull, if there is ample food the remaining deer will respond with increased fertility.  Also, the potential of spreading Chronic Wasting or other diseases should be considered: Geography of Chronic Wasting.  

News

...  “The Vancouver Police were able to gently corral the deer in an alley and a conservation officer was able to tranquilize the deer to relocate it...

... The Twin Falls Police Department started receiving phone calls and reports of pictures of moose on doorbell cameras on Sunday morning ... Conservation officers and biologists from Fish and Game were called to handle the capture and relocation of the moose.  The moose was safely anesthetized and released north of Carey....

... With permission of a homeowner, the team was able to quickly dart and anesthetize the cow in their backyard. The young calf stayed close to the cow and was easily captured... Both the cow and calf were loaded into a horse trailer and transported to the Silver Creek area where they were safely released along a creek..,

Deer tranquilized and relocated from North End June 4, 2021 Massachusetts, The Boston Globe
... Officials decided to tranquilize and relocate the doe because of the prevalence of people and activity in the area ...

...“They’re getting food [in McCall] so there’s no need to [migrate],” ... If the ordinance goes through, Fish and Game plans to trap and relocate the healthy deer population. This is to acclimate the deer to a natural migration pattern...

Results of the 2021 trapping season. Transferred the deer to his trailer and he took them up there and released them so no problems, no incidents, everything went smooth. - April 12, 2021 Texas


...  radio-collared hundreds of Pennsylvania deer over the last 20 years,  ... about three of every four young, male white-tailed deer disperse, with yearling female dispersal rates much lower...  survival rates of dispersers—males 49.9%, females 64.0%—did not differ appreciably from those of nondispersers—males 51.6%, females 70.7%. ... [published in Ecology and Evolution]

... Goldwater, an animal rights activist, urged the city to meet with her to discuss the situation. She said the animals will be treated well and examined from "the tip of the ears to the tip of their hooves" before they are sedated and transported to a sanctuary... These deer are semi-domestic ...

Longueuil deer cull triggers protest November 14, 2020 Quebec, Global News
... "The Miller Zoo wants to take them, the animal rescue is willing to catch them and transport them," ... "We know that it's possible to move these animals because we do this many times and we have a place for them," ... the city would not change its plans despite the zoo's offer...

6 On Your Side
... The Idaho Fish & Game moved 16 elk out of Elmore County because the herd is too large, and the elk are damaging agriculture in the region... The goal was to remove 70 elk ...

CAPTIVITY TO FREEDOM - DEER TRANSLOCATION FROM BHANJAVIHAR TO LAKHARY - October 10, 2020 India


... For the past four years, the city has had a dual program of lethal and non-lethal methods of getting rid of the urban deer population... In early 2019 the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources ended transporting trapped deer to new locations because of concerns of spreading Chronic Wasting Disease ... “Looking at the numbers, I’m not persuaded it has made a difference,” said George Handley, council chairman. “I don’t see any significant reduction in traffic accidents.” ...

Comparing Survival and Movements of Non‐Urban and Urban Translocated Mule Deer  CA Wright, IT Adams, P Stent, AT Ford - The Journal of Wildlife Management, 2020 British Columbia
... Annual survival of translocated deer was 0.48 and was significantly lower than survival of non‐urban deer, which was 0.77. We observed 20 of 57 collared translocated deer return to a town after translocation... 

...  Fall and spring trap and translocation to reduce the size of the depredating elk herd... Non-lethal hazing to deter elk from entering private property and depredating on crops... Nighttime sharp shooting of antlerless elk by department staff to change elk behavior and reduce herd size...

Lakeway pursues permit to trap, transport deer January 9, 2020  Texas, Austin American-Statesmen
...  the first step toward a state permit application to trap, transport and transplant ... white-tailed deer ... an applicant must trap and euthanize 15 deer within the trap site, testing them for chronic wasting disease ... Parks and Wildlife requires the test results before it will issue a permit...
... Lakeway's Wildlife Advisory Committee (WAC) recommended to the city council that an unspecified number of deer be moved to west Texas as a way to limit the deer overpopulation across the city...Dennis Hogan, the chair of WAC, brought up the plan to trap, transport and translocate deer to west Texas. Claiming anthrax had killed off parts of the deer population in that area ...


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