Why consider alternatives to lethal control: Cities in the U.S. relying on urban deer culls are about equally divided between using sharpshooters and bow hunters. The Humane Societies of the United States and of Canada recommend against bow hunting to cull urban deer for reasons apparent in the video at right. Based on national statistics, 50 percent of deer hit by an arrow are not recovered [some examples]. Costs average about $500 per deer, but vary widely. Although many hunters will not participate in an urban cull, considering it an extermination rather than a hunt, cities often find hunters willing to pay a license fee to participate. After a cull, however, the remaining deer produce more offspring in response to the increased availability of food and other deer migrate into the area [research support]. Light to moderate long-term hunting, as in many urban culls, does not change the long-run total deer population in an otherwise stable environment. A sterile doe will defend her territory, reducing the in-migration of other deer, one advantage of contraception.
For example, after 10 years of an annual urban cull, the environmental manager for Wilton, Connecticut, concludes "If we harvest 300 a year it could take us maybe seven [more] years.... But of course that does not include baby deer." The city of Little Canada, Minnesota did a deer survey in 2010 finding 110 deer in the town. They culled 52 animals. The next year, in 2011, the survey showed 109 animals, basically no change in the herd size. Rapid City, South Dakota, has been killing deer in the city since 1996 with no measurable effect and at a cost of over $350,000, a program that has recently come under scrutiny. In Lewis Morris Park, New Jersey, an annual deer cull since 1996 produced the following effect: 63.2 deer per square mile in 1996, 65 deer per square mile in 2009. Cost analysis typically ignores this effect.
Non Lethal Control Methods: In addition to the population control methods below, some Canadian towns are experimenting with using herding dogs to manage areas where there are complaints about too many deer. Some wildlife experts suggest that more restrictive leash laws for dogs in recent years have been a factor in encouraging deer to migrate into urban areas and that trained dogs can be used to push deer [see video on dog page] out of areas where they are causing problems. Use of dogs is common among farmers. Fencing is very effective but can be expensive. One town in Canada, Gamache, is surrounded by deer fence. Fencing and deer repellents. The city of Sequim, Washington, recently received a state grant to fit their elk with GPS collars with “virtual fence” capability. When alerted, volunteers will be called on to drive the offending elk away from designated areas. Information on the Safe-Capture of Wildlife Using Chemical Immobilization
(more information at link above)Products:
Gonacon, Spayvac, 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. Success rates are often reported to be in the 90 to 95 percent range. This approach generally has a much lower risk of deer fatalities than sterilization.
Weston, Meeting to Discuss Alternative Deer Management Plans May 5, 2013 Massachusetts, Boston.com
... Jay Kirkpatrick, inducted into the Wild Horse and Burro Exposition Hall of Fame for his success in controlling wild horse populations through birth-control drugs, told residents ... the first deer were given the contraceptive, via dart gun, in 1995. By 2005, the deer population on Fire Island had dropped by 70 percent, he said. “The deer haters love it, because there aren’t so many deer now, and the deer lovers love it because no deer were killed.” ...
Bald Head permitted for deer birth control May 21, 2013 North Carolina, Port City Daily
... Officials with the Bald Head Island Conservancy (BHIC) and a group of property owners who’ve long fought for the “immunocontraception” method hope to begin darting deer with the control drug late this year or early next... The drug for the task is called GonaCon, developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Wildlife Research Center and approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency...
Hastings Trustees, Expert Meet To Discuss Deer Birth Control May 8, 2013 New York, The Daily Voice
... Deer birth control involves a vaccine called PZP, short for porcine zona pellucida, a pig protein that poses no risk to people, animals or the environment [Dr. Allen Rutberg] ... A deer is shot via dart gun to tranquilize it before the vaccine can be injected. The Environmental Protection Agency requires that the deer be tagged ...
Avon Lake looks into new deer management April 20, 2013 Ohio, The Morning Journal
... Mayor Greg Zilka. “In my eyes, if residents are still complaining, it’s still a problem.” Zilka has contacted Tufts University in Boston to draft a proposal for using contraception to reduce the deer population. But that plan would require approval of state Wildlife officials, and that hasn’t happened in more than 20 years, Zilka said. The city also will look at encouraging residents to fence in their properties, and the placement of cautionary road signs where deer are prevalent...
Don't kill the deer in Rock Creek Park February 1, 2013 Washington Post, Jay Kirkpatrick and Allen Rutberg
As two scientists with extensive experience using fertility treatments to control wildlife populations ... One fertility-control vaccine, porcine zona pellucida (PZP) — which can be administered by shooting the animal with a dart — is safe for deer and for predators, scavengers and any humans who happen to consume venison from a treated deer; it is a natural protein that degrades in the deer’s body after injection, and if eaten, it is destroyed in digestion... PZP has reduced urban white-tailed deer numbers at Fire Island National Seashore in New York; controlled wild horse populations at Assateague Island National Seashore in Maryland and Cape Lookout National Seashore in North Carolina; and slowed growth of the Tule elk population at Point Reyes National Seashore in California. And it has been used since 1994 to limit white-tailed deer conflicts at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Gaithersburg...
Jay Kirkpatrick, Director of the nonprofit Science and Conservation Center in Billings Montana, has used darts to control horse populations for 24 years, and says that darting urban deer is far more effective than hunting them... “Suppose by some magical way, you went in and you reduced the population by 80 percent. Remove them, shoot them. You haven’t solved a problem, because the ones that are remaining behind are still going to breed.” Guns cost between $900 and $3,000. The Science and Conservation Center offers training in Montana for $200 per person, he said – though they waive that fee in cases of hardship. But once employees are trained, the Center sells the vaccine for $24 per dose, and darts cost $2.15.
A U.S.D.A. study concludes "We are confident that GonaCon vaccine will become a valuable addition to the tools used by wildlife professionals to manage populations of overabundant wild animals in settings where other methods such as regulated sport hunting cannot be applied." It has also been shown to reduce traffic collisions. Using a netting method requiring no tranquilizing drugs, wildlife managers in Colorado put radio collars on 20 deer and elk with no ill effect, a much more difficult process than injecting a contraceptive
Bald Head Island, BHI deer cull could wrap by week's end January 10, 2013 North Carolina, Port City Daily
... the cull is targeting roughly 20 female deer to reduce the local herd’s population enough for a proposed birth-control program.... BHIC explained it is working in partnership with the village, and with residents opposed to the cull routine, to implement a non-lethal alternative. The proposal: “immunocontraception,” or the administration of birth control drugs to keep the population level... hope to administer by 2014 a drug called GonaCon ...
Hastings-on-Hudson, New York village looks to contraceptive to control deer population December 13, 2012 New York, FOX News
... volunteers will begin gathering preliminary research for the birth control project early next year... The project would be led by Tufts University veterinary expert Allen Rutberg...
Westport, Two towns take different paths in dealing with deer population December 2, 2012 Connecticut, Westport-News
As another deer hunt continues at Devil's Den in Weston, Westport's Deer Management Committee ... "It's a contraceptive program that's used by darting deer," said Susan Pike, the committee chairwoman. "We estimate (it) would cut our deer herd down by half within five years, where we wouldn't have to hunt, where we wouldn't have to overturn the ordinance." Westport has long had a no-hunting ordinance in place...
Westport May Test New Contraceptive: Committee Seeks Accurate, Infrared Deer Count October 11, 2012 Connecticut, Westport Now
... A subcommittee report presented by Michele Lamothe, a veterinarian, described a PCP contraceptive vaccine expected to be approved by the Environmental Protection Agency within three years. Unlike other contraceptive methods, which are more expensive and require two applications, the vaccine, which causes does to create antibodies against sperm, only requires one application costing $80 each, Lamothe said.
Future looks merrier for Bald Head Island deer December 5, 2012 Georgia,
State Port Pilot
After more than a decade of consideration, residents of Bald Head Island are seriously ready to administer birth control to the island’s deer herd, eliminating the need for periodic hunts. ... Oakley said his problem with the lethal cull has nothing to do with hunting, as he grew up hunting deer in his native Georgia. The issue, he said, is that Bald Head Island is not a suitable place for gunfire, and bow hunting is messy ... “The change is that the state Wildlife Resources Commission is willing to consider this management option,” Dorsey said. “It would be the first in the state.”
Harbor Springs deer to get contraceptives December 4, 2012 Michigan, Petoskey News-Review
City manager Tom Richards has found a way to help manage the deer population at the Harbor Springs Deer Park: to treat the deer with contraceptives — administered by dart. ... In talking with a local veterinarian and experts from the humane society, Richards arranged to have the does in the herd given long-lasting contraceptives. The contraceptives will be administered by a dart gun, and will last 2-3 years. "This way, we can manage the population instead of having to deal with overpopulation," ...
Avon Lake, Tufts University Evaluating Deer Birth Control Option October 16, 2012 Ohio
... Avon Lake Councilwoman Jennifer Fenderbosch ... first introduced the idea of birth control for deer in early spring of this year... with Tufts University and the Medical College of Ohio, who are studying the effects of PZP, a non-hormonal birth control dart for wild animals. “The universities are interested in investigating the possibility of a long term birth control study of the white tailed deer in Avon Lake..." ... Fenderbosch said the Humane Society of the United States is paying for air fare, hotel and expenses for the Tufts group.
Essex County, Nearby deer needn't fear next year December 6, 2012 New Jersey, NorthJersey.com
...New Jersey, along with Maryland, are the states that allow immuno-contraceptives to be given to deer. Our county and virtually every other government in New Jersey and elsewhere that have sought to control the overpopulation of deer have rejected deer contraceptives. The procedure of locating the deer, tranquilizing them, capturing them and immunizing them with contraceptives is arduous to achieve — and costly... Here’s an alternative. Essex County officials should give pro-deer advocates a chance to determine the effectiveness of a citizen-driven vaccination effort...
Hastings Board to Submit Permit Application for Deer Immuno-Contraception June 7, 2012 New York, Patch.com
..."There isn't enough space in the village without residences to have a traditional bow-and-arrow cull," [Mayor Peter] Swiderski said....Two years ago ...(DEC) granted Swiderski a permit to do a net-and-bolt cull of deer ... When animal rights activist spoke out vehemently against the cull ... the board started over.... Hastings would work with Tufts professor Dr. Allen Rutberg, who is currently conducting studies on immuno-contraception to control suburban deer populations...
Fair Oaks Ranch studies deer contraception November 21, 2011 Texas, San Antonio Express
... [from survey] “Birth control is the most accepted method of controlling the herd,” said Alderman Mark Anderson, chairman of the city's ad hoc deer committee. “And our residents are about to find out if it will work.” ... Mayor Cheryl Landman is now authorized to sign a two-and-a-half-year contract for not more than $90,000 with Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute for a study on whitetail dear migration, a scientific census count and the potential of contraceptive use in order to reduce or stabilize the deer population.
Not tonight deer: A new birth control vaccine helps reduce urban deer damage August 31, 2011 PhysOrg.com
... GonaCon blocks a biological signal that triggers reproductive behavior in deer ... As day length decreases in autumn, the reproductive systems in these animals "turn on."..."Other birth-control vaccines using porcine zona pellucida (PZP) also can prevent deer from producing offspring, but PZP-vaccinated animals still exhibit mating behaviors," Goldade explained. He is with the U. S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA's) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service/Wildlife Services National Wildlife Research Center (NWRC) in Fort Collins, Colo., where GonaCon was developed. "That opens the door to dangerous situations in which males chase females across the highway. With GonaCon, however, vaccinated deer don't even try to mate," ....
Testimony from Allen Rutberg, a professor at Tufts University's Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine: The vaccine produced noticeable results in each trial, Gutberg said. On Fire Island, less than 20 percent of does that were treated produced fawns the following year. This trend was accompanied by a 50 to 60 percent decline in the local deer population during an approximately 10-year span. On Fripp Island, the one-shot vaccine had produced an 80 to 90 percent drop in fawning rates....Rutberg said the costs of deer birth control were not inconsiderable. While remote darting of the deer cost only about $80 in the Fire Island program, capturing each deer for vaccination and tagging on Fripp Island cost more than $500.
Ruminant Rumblings May 19, 2011 New York Urban East Hampton StarBy Joanne Pilgrim | The East Hampton Group for Wildlife is advocating a pilot deer-contraception program. Durell Godfrey At a town board session on Tuesday, the East Hampton Group for Wildlife offered to raise money and help the ...Bill Crain of Montauk, the president of the group, and his wife, Ellen Crain, outlined a proposal for a pilot study through which 30 does would be vaccinated with a contraceptive made with a protein from purified pig ovaries, effective for three to four years, and 10 given a placebo. The does would be tagged so they could be monitored for four years to see if they give birth to fawns. Ms. Crain, a professor of pediatric and emergency medicine at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, said research shows that hunting does not adequately control deer populations, and nationwide studies show that most Americans oppose hunting. The contraceptive vaccine that could be used on the deer has proved to be safe and “not harmful to humans or to animals that eat deer,” Ms. Crain said, and it is used by the United States government to control herds of wild horses in the West. It would be provided for free by its developer, a veterinarian who would also offer his services to oversee an East Hampton pilot study. Dr. Jonathan Turetsky, an East Hampton vet, has offered to oversee care of the deer, Ms. Crain said. The program would have no cost to the town.
ROMANCE WITHOUT RESPONSIBILITIES: THE USE OF FERTILITY CONTROL TO MANAGE BISON ON CATALINA ISLAND CALIFORNIA. Western Wildlife Society Meetings, 2012, Calvin Duncan; Catalina Island Conservancy; PO Box 2739, Avalon, CA, 90704; 310-510-1299 x232; firstname.lastname@example.org; Julie, L,king
We evaluated the cost, administration efforts, and efficacy of porcine zona pellucida (PZP) immunocontraception for the contraceptive management of an introduced herd of American bison (Bison bison) on Santa Catalina Island, California. A roundup was completed in 2009 whereby 35 of the estimated 47 breeding age bison cows were temporarily restrained, ear tagged, and given an intramuscular inoculation of 100µg PZP mixed with 0.5ml of Freund’s Modified adjuvant (FMA) as a primer. The remaining 12 unmarked cows received the same PZP and FMA emulsion via field darting efforts completed in February and March 2010. As per PZP administration protocol, a pre-rut dose of 100µg PZP mixed with 0.5 ml of Freund’s Incomplete adjuvant (FIA) was administered intramuscularly to all 47 breeding age bison cows via field darting efforts conducted mid April through July 2010. The pre-rut darting efforts were completed during 12 daily attempts and required approximately 45 hours of field time. Through our monitoring efforts in 2011 we demonstrated that the contraception effort had successfully held the calving rate below the estimated annual mortality rate of 4%, and therefore proved to be an effective means of maintaining a stable bison population.
TESTING THE EFFECTIVENESS OF ONE-SHOT IMMUNOCONTRACEPTIVES ON WHITE-TAILED DEER AT FRIPP ISLAND, SOUTH CAROLINA
Both distance-sampling and mark-resight methods indicated a decline in deer densities and fawn-doe ratios on Fripp Island in 2008. Between 2006 and 2008, deer numbers appear to have declined between 21-35% on Fripp and fawn:doe ratios have declined by 38-56%. Both measures remained roughly stable on the Hunting Island control site during that period. There is also a trend for increased male:female ratios over the course of the study on both sites, for reasons that are not well understood. - Allen T. Rutberg, Ph.D., Research Assistant Professor, Department of Environmental and Population Health, Tufts-Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine
Horse overpopulation addressed by locally produced wildlife contraceptive vaccine February 16, 2012 Montana, KTVQ Billings News
The vaccine has been used on wild horses and other species including urban deer for more than 20 years under FDA experimental use. "We didn't solve the cat and dog problem by creating more kill shelters. We did it with spay and neuter programs...A recent United States Geological Survey economics study indicates the vaccine could save almost $8-million dollars annually in the management of western wild horses.
Avon Lake, Ohio, Will Test Contraception
Avon Lake, Full text of proposed amendment to Avon Lake's hunting ordinance November 14, 2012 Ohio, Patch
... a comprehensive and multi-faceted approach to managing the deer population is the most effective strategy ... a deer culling program has been in effect in the City of Avon Lake since 2004 ... Develop, in coordination with a university or research institute, a proposal which outlines a scientific research project and seek permission from the state to use contraceptives for scientific research on white-tailed deer within the municipality, and implement such contraceptive research project upon receipt of permission by the state...
Some Wildlife Agencies Not Willing to Even Allow Alternatives
Ogden Dunes, Protesters take aim against Ogden Dunes deer cull November 18, 2012 Indiana, Post-Tribune
... The deer cull has been a contentious topic since the town first applied for a permit from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources in 2011.... In August, the DNR rejected the town’s application for two options — deer contraception, and the trap and transfer of deer — while requesting more information on the four-poster insecticide method.
[comments from June 12, 2012 article in Boston.com]
Wildlife Agencies sometimes provide the public with incorrect information about this option: For example. Tina Brunjes, deer and elk program coordinator for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife, provides the following advice to communities: "Birth control drugs cost $1,000 per deer, are not 100 percent effective and doses only last for two years." quoted from Dealing with Nuisance Deer in Populated Areas September 21, 2012 Kentucky, SurfKY News
Deer Spay and Neuter
While spaying can be expensive [perhaps $1,000 per deer] because of high labor costs, local volunteers may bring costs down. In many states, deer contraception is illegal. Sterilization is typically 100 percent effective, but may result in the death or injury of a few deer.
Follow the the progress of Maryland's first deer sterilization program at Wildlife Rescue, Inc. [www.wildliferescueinc.org], great results and reduced costs.
Deer Dilemma postscript: Md. spay program shows alternative March 8, 2013 Maryland, WTOP
Throughout the last three years, more than 60 deer in the Phoenix area of Baltimore County have been spayed... "The procedure is actually less intrusive than when a dog or cat is spayed ..." says Enid Feinberg, volunteer president of the nonprofit group Wildlife Rescue, Inc., which is funding the experimental program... " ... we found that because the deer are no longer pregnant, they're no longer consuming the amount of food that they were. So the browsing and the food consumption has dropped tremendously without having to do any harm to the deer," ... The program initially cost about $1,200 to $1,300 per deer, but Feinberg says it's now down to about $500 per deer...
Mt. Lebanon hiring firm to count deer February 7, 2013 Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh Post Gazette
... [Commisioner] Mrs. Fraasch has composed and posted online a four-page document, "Deer in Mt. Lebanon [PDF]," ... she expresses her opposition to hunting by rifle or bow, instead favoring sterilization by removal of does' ovaries as a viable option. She cites a significant cost savings over the long term and mitigation of some hazards associated with culling...
Village of Cayuga Heights suspends deer-culling plan November 20, 2012 New York, Ithaca Journal
... the Village Board of Trustees announced that after sending consent forms to the owners of the approximately 900 land parcels that make up the municipality, owners of roughly 90 parcels said they would not allow culling on their property. The board said that while this only constitutes 10 percent of the land in the village, it would limit the number of feasible sites necessary for the culling strategy to succeed. As a result, the New York State Department of Conservation has approved the village’s request to increase the number of does it may sterilize from 60 to 145 ...
Several does die in Cayuga Heights sterilization process January 16, 2013 New York, Ithaca Journal
The village’s deer population control program removed ovaries from 137 female deer in December ...The procedures sterilized more than 90 percent of the village’s deer population, Cayuga Heights Mayor Kate Supron said. Two does died from attempted captures. One broke its neck in a drop net, and the second fell down a steep hillside after getting shot by a tranquilizer dart ... Another doe died after it was released...The program cost taxpayers $148,315 ...
San Jose: Deer at the Villages to be sterilized January 22, 2013 California, San Jose Mercury News
... a plan to use archers to thin the herd in 2007 was derailed after a week of angry protests. But a Villages spokesman said the current plan to relocate 30 animals outside of the community's eight miles of fencing and sterilize the does in the 170-strong herd is a humane solution to the growing problem.... Rebecca Dmytryk, president of the animal rescue group Wildlife Emergency Services, said ... given the enclosed, isolated population at the Villages, sterilization is "probably a great way to go,"
Village's deer controversy continues February 15, 2013 California, Evergreen Times
... the scientific collecting had not been completed by White Buffalo Inc., the wildlife management firm handling the sterilization ... General Manager Darren Shaw ... reports that 99 female deer have been sterlized, 30 relocated and four have died.... "It's a total a total disaster," said resident Jack Young, a hunter and fisherman, who was out the first night when the deer were captured ... " ... We don't have a deer problem" ...
Lake Forest will not cull deer; Bannockburn will November 21, 2011 Illinois, Lake Forester
... “Our community implemented a unique program to trap, neuter and release deer in 2006 with the permission of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources,” said Highland Park Deputy City Manager Patrick Brennan. “That program has provided multiple benefits for years.”
Fair Oaks Ranch: Surgery seen way to control for deer October 24, 2011 Texas, Boerne Star
,,,City officials approached the wildlife research institute [Dr. Charles DeYoung of the Caesar Klebery Institute at Texas A&M] ... DeYoung said that surgical sterilization was the preferred method, but that a contraceptive vaccine was also an option ... during the discussion, DeYoung said ... more background information ... a six-person team .. would study deer movement and range size ... "Removing deer is not enough as that merely makes an opening for new deer to come in. At the same time, new fawns can easily come in... This is a first-time study of deer movements both within and out of the city limits..."
Deer-kill foes press the issue in Homer Glen November 24, 2011 Illinois, Chicago Tribune
The city [in 2003] ... launched a pilot project to sterilize deer, spending more than $159,000 to outfit an ambulance as a moving veterinary clinic and hiring teams to tranquilize, neuter and release 19 deer. The state did not renew the permit to continue the trial for a second year. ... Steve Mandel, who has served five terms on the Highland Park City Council said "I think what we did must have worked, but I don't think anyone wants to talk about it again."
Evaluation of a Trap-Sterilize-Release Program for White-tailed Deer Management in Highland Park, Illinois, 2002-2005 September12, 2005, by Nancy E. Mathews, Ph.D [Full article in attachment at bottom of page]
.... We found that sterilization can control the deer population in Highland Park at the goal population level of 5 deer per mi2, if we can capture and sterilize an average of 32% of the female population per year. Our computer model suggests that the long-term maintenance of the population will require sterilizing an average of 6 does per year. Sterilizing more females will result in achieving the population goal more quickly. The model projections suggest that the population will continue to grow initially and peak at 3.7 years, until the effects of sterilization halt population growth. There after, the population will decline and hover around the target density after 9.5 years.
We evaluated the influence of sterilization on the behavior (home-range size and dispersal rates) of the sterilized and control deer. In general, deer used extremely small home ranges in this urban environment and there were no differences in either the home range sizes or dispersal rates of sterilized deer verses the control deer. Fawns used larger home ranges than adults, and home ranges were larger during the winter. Although the sample size is exceedingly small, we found that more treatment deer than control deer made exploratory movements out of their home range. There is also an initial indication that sterilized deer traveled farther and used larger home ranges than control deer.
With respect to the efficacy of surgical sterilization under field conditions, we found that tubal ligation, by ventral laparotomy, provides a safe, humane form of sterilization with low mortality
in white-tailed deer. The ability to capture, chemically immobilize and perform surgery on wild deer, under field conditions was highly successful.
Officials Work To Spay Deer To Reduce Their Population « CBS Baltimore
Feb 14, 2011 ... Spaying to control the population of domesticated animals is being given a try in the wild. Contraceptive darts have been tried before in Maryland but they must be administered once a year. It takes money and time to control reproduction.
The $50,000 spaying pilot has made for some strange bedfellows. Feinberg is an animal welfare advocate who has carried out a tireless campaign against what she sees as a state bureaucracy that is too quick to use hunting as an answer to deer problems. The professional she hired is Tony DeNicola, a biologist with a doctorate and a national reputation as a deer sharpshooter. The money is from the estate of Gerda Deterer, an animal rehabilitation expert who died in 2009. And the DNR — Feinberg's frequent adversary — approved the effort.
White Buffalo can sterilize five to seven deer a day vs. shooting 10 to 15 a day. July 2007, Cornell University began a five-year, $500,000 deer management plan that used hunting and surgical sterilization to reduce the campus herd by 75 percent. On a 1,133-acre portion of the central campus, 77 does and fawns have been sterilized. On a patchwork of 2,544 outlaying acres, hunting is permitted and 181 deer of both sexes have been killed.
The results will be out next spring, but critics have dubbed the experiment as "Spay and Slay" and consider it a waste of money.
In 2009, the wealthy St. Louis suburb of Town and Country decided to go a similar route and hired DeNicola's company, White Buffalo Inc., to kill 112 deer and spay another 100 at a cost of $150,000.
Are Wildlife Services Reluctant to Spay or Use Contraceptives?
Federal Wildlife Services makes a killing in animal-control business November 18, 2012 California, San Luis Obispo Tribune
A coyote is caught in a neck snare set by Wildlife Services trappers in Nevada. Wildlife Services trappers have killed .... "Geese, deer and feral pigs can destroy golf course greens, fruiting plants (and) lawns," the agency says.... Erick Wolf, CEO of a California firm called Innolytics, which developed a form of birth control for Canada geese and pigeons with help from Wildlife Services' scientists in Colorado... "All they want to do is shoot, trap and poison," said Wolf. "They don't want to consider anything else."
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).
As the information below suggests, success varies widely depending on circumstances. Also, the potential of spreading Chronic Wasting or other diseases should be considered: Geography of Chronic Wasting.
Survival and Movements of Translocated White-tailed Deer in South Texas
2008 Proc. Annu. Conf. SEAFWA, Aaron M. Foley, et al
Abstract: In south Texas, white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) translocations have become a common technique for non-lethal means of deer removal with the implementation of a Trap, Transport, and Transplant (TTT) permit program. However, the effectiveness of TTT as a management tool has not been evaluated. We monitored survival, movements, and body condition of 51 adult white-tailed deer from two translocations to two south Texas properties, one of which was partially enclosed by a 2.5-m net-wire fence. Annual survival of all translocated deer was lower in the partially fenced property (64%) compared to the unfenced property (80%), but overall survival was similar to survival rates of adult native south Texas deer reported in previous studies (68%–74%). As expected, more deer left the unfenced property (52%) than the partially enclosed property (14%). Cumulatively, 40% of deer survived and remained on the release area after one year. Young (1.5–3.5 years old) translocated males had below average antler gain, body condition scores, and rump fat measurements 6–8 months post-release compared to resident males. Results of this study indicate reasonable survival rates can be achieved, but released deer may not remain in the vicinity of the release site and tend to have below-average body condition 6–8 months after release compared to native deer.
Northwest Deer Relocation Mission Considered Successful, Despite 20 Percent Loss April 18, 2013 Washington, Nature World News
... A mission to relocate endangered Columbian White-tail deer ... Jackie Ferrier, who manages the Julia Butler-Hansen Refuge near Cathlamet, Wash., said that as the project went on it became quite difficult to lure the deer into the traps in place for them because the deer had grown leery of humans. “The deer were just plain not coming into the nets anymore ...
Relocation of endangered deer a slow, dangerous process February 13, 2013 Washington, Longview Daily News
... Wildlife officials are in a race to move about 50 deer because they fear a badly eroded dike may soon break... using a combination of sedative darts, drive-netting, and drop-netting ... So far, biologists have captured an ideal mix of age and gender, and no animals or people have been hurt or killed ... “We’ve never really moved this many deer all at once in this short of a time frame,” said Jackie Ferrier, who manages the deer refuge ...
Link to an August, 2012, Youtube video showing relocation of deer and exotic animals in Texas
DWR transfers mule deer to Millard January 16, 2013 Utah, Millard County Chronicle Progress
Fifty mule deer were removed from the Parowan front and transplanted to the Pahvant Range east of Holden on January 7 and 8... According to Division of Wildlife Resources biologist Kody Jones there were too many deer in the Parowan area and plenty of open space in the Pahvant Range. “We don’t normally do this, but with SFW funding it is worth a try. Our big concern is mule deer tend to go to the same places all the time. This is a big change for them; hopefully, they will take hold here,”
Feds considering emergency relocation of endangered deer December 3, 2012 Washington, Longview Daily News
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Monday proposed moving half of the estimated 100 deer [an endangered species] off their Cathlamet-area refuge to other locations in Cowlitz and Clark counties ... a dike that protects the refuge from the Columbia River could fail ...“We have enough to move the deer. We don’t have enough to fix the dike." ... Doug Zimmer, a spokesman for the Wildlife Service ...
Cranbrook: Alternative to current cull February 3, 2012 Canada, Cranbrook Daily Townsman
... it has been my belief the deer should be transported. In 2002 I had the privilege of being part of a crew that translocated 50 elk from Elk Island National Park in Alberta to Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee. This trip was over 3,000 miles, taking 60 hours to complete and we were proud that these elk suffered no ill effects in this transfer. This makes me seriously question the biologists' claim that the mule deer would stress out to a fatal condition on a one hour, 50-mile trip...
Lincoln City, Elk, deer increasingly a part of Lincoln City November 10, 2012 Oregon, Lincoln City News Guard
... not a surprise to biologists with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW). Increasing development and decreasing habitat are forcing the elk and deer out into the open more frequently.... By capturing several lead cows over the years, ODFW was able to alter the patterns of the deer and elk to the golf course ... “We see movement in and out of the city from the north and the west of Highway 101,” said Doug Cottam, ODFW biologist. “It doesn’t mean they aren’t still crossing, but the number has been decreasing and we are monitoring that.”
Animal control in Chicago translocated a doe and fawn from a suburban environment to an open space with no ill effects, many similar examples can be found in the "Deer in the News" sections on this site. In the Toutle River Valley of Washington State, 50 elk were successfully relocated to the Nooksack Valley. Toutle officials there coordinated with two helicopters and volunteers on the ground to herd the animals into a corral and then transport them to other areas.
40 spotted deer relocated for Chennai Metro Rail September 5, 2011 India, IBNLive.com
CHENNAI: ...the Forest Department had translocated 40 spotted deer ... officials claimed that all the 40 were safe in the new environment.... Completing the task in four months ... “Deer have a soft heart and are sensitive. Some even die in fear when taken from one place to another,” said S Davidraj, forest range officer....“We appointed six people for this to get friendly with the mammal. We kept salt lick near the water spot, ...In an attempt to trap the mammal, 15 wooden boxes were made and the same grass, wheat and bran were kept inside; the mammal was trapped once it entered the box to eat....All the 40 deer were translocated to the new place in the similar manner. [also done in 1990s near Vandular]...
Efficacy of translocation to control urban deer in Missouri: costs, efficiency, and outcome. (2002) Wildlife Society Bulletin, Vol. 30, No. 3, Autumn, 2002
Abstract: We evaluated the efficacy of translocation to control an urban white-tailed deer ... population in Town and Country (TC), Missouri. Captured deer (n = 80) were fitted with radiotransmitters...Annual survival was 0.30 ... for translocated deer and 0.69 ... for radiomarked resident deer that were not translocated. Mortality causes for the 55 translocated deer that died during the study were hunting (33%), capture myopathy (29%), poaching (13%), unknown causes (11%), roadkill (9%), and wounding from hunting (5%). Mortality causes for the 25 resident deer that died during the study were roadkill (68%), hunting (12%), unknown causes (8%), fences (8%), and wounding from hunting (4%). Post-translocation home range size increased ... and fawn recruitment by translocated adult females was higher ... than for TC resident deer. Cost per translocated deer was $387....
Survival of Black-Tailed Deer Following Relocation in California (1985), Mary K, O'Bryan and Dale R. McCullough, Journal of Wildlife Management 49(1):115-119 ... At least 275 deer were on Angle Island prior to relocation ... 215 deer captured .. Twelve died before relocation; two due to prexisting diseases, five to physical injuries, two to capture stress, and three to pre-existing poor condition ... Mortality was greatest during the first 2 months following relocation ... The first three know deaths .. all died of malnutrition .. analysis showed these animals were in poor physical condition ... All known causes of later deaths were attributed either to predators (3) or were human related (17). Thirteen of the human-related deaths were car kills. Cause of death of five deer could not be determined... Only 15% of the radio-collared Angel Island deer survived an entire year following relocation... Many relocated deer died because they failed to recognize hazards not encountered on Angle Island ...
A Connecticut guide to deer management cites the study above and concludes: "Survival rates of relocated deer are frequently low. The poor physical condition of deer from an
overpopulated range predisposes them to starvation. Trap-and-transfer efforts in California, New Mexico and Florida resulted in losses of 85, 55 and 58 percent, respectively, from 4 to 15 months [p. 15]" The guide references the Texas study above, but does not provide any information about the relative success of that much more recent effort. The California case was an unusual effort to transfer deer from an island into a very different environment.
The Connecticut guide does not report the low mortality rate from the study below, instead summarizes as follows: "A six-year study of translocated deer from the Chicago Metropolitan Area showed a higher annual survival rate of resident adults than for those translocated deer. Deer-vehicle accidents were the largest source of mortality among the translocated does and presumably resulted from unfamiliarity with the release site (18)" see page 16
Post-translocation survival and movements of metropolitan white-tailed deer. (1990) Jones, J. M. and J.H. Witham. Wildl. Soc. Bull. 18(4):434-441. Here are some of the conclusions of this study:
"Survival of translocated deer ... has been documented in other studies. Direct comparisons of these studies are complicated by differences between sites, methods of translocation, and methods of calculating and reporting survival rates. These data suggest, however, that the survival of translocated deer is contingent upon capture and handling procedures, the nutritional status of the animals, and the presence of decimating factors at the release site including hunters, vehicular traffic, predators, or a combination of these. ... Capture myopathy ... was presumably the cause of 3 (12%, 2 adults and 1 fawn) mortalities among our translocated does within 0.8 km of release site during the first month post-releast." (page 5)
Link to Youtube Video showing relocation of deer during the 1930s at Pisgah National Forest
State's deer restoration is amazing October 19, 2012 Arkansas, Log Cabin Democrat
... In the late 1930s, Arkansas had an estimated 5,000 deer — statewide. That number could be up a little from the mid-1920s when the restoration program began. Or maybe not.... It could not be done today. So many regulations have been added to our daily lives that a couple of fellows with a stake bed truck likely could not trap three or four deer in south Arkansas and move them to northeast Arkansas....