A couple of years ago I started a file to keep up with different urban deer problems and how cities were dealing with the situations. The file grew to an enormous length. Cities great and small throughout the eastern half of the United States have problems with overpopulations of white-tailed deer. Even tiny Decorah, Iowa, in the heart of the Midwest and its great hunting, has a problem and is considering expanding its hunting opportunities this autumn. This is not a small problem. Communities deal with this from Long Island to Little Rock.
Headlines on those stories are mostly the same: Citizens Ask for Help With Deer Problems … City Council Considering Proposals for Deer Hunting and Cull … Opponents Decry Killing Deer in City Limits … Hunters Step Up, Offer to Help With Deer Problem … Lawsuits Filed over Proposed Deer Cull in TinyCity … City Council Approves Regulated Bowhunting … and on and on.
The latest comes from New York, where Staten Island has become overrun with deer. According to reports the population has grown immensely in the last 15 years, from the “Oh, we saw a deer!” sighting to complaints about deer-vehicle collisions and problems with lawns. Nothing new. Typical for an area that does not allow hunting and whose residents are aghast at the thought of killing deer.
For the cost of $2 million in taxpayer money, New York City’s parks department plans to capture the male deer on Staten Island, give them vasectomies and then release them. Think about that for a moment.
Here’s one quote from this report about the situation: “It’s difficult for me to come up with all the reasons why this is a really stupid plan,” said Bernd Blossey, a ecologist at Cornell University who consulted City Hall on deer management strategies in November. “It’s ridiculous from the onset.”
Here’s another passage from that report: “This plan has very low likelihood of success,” said Paul Curtis, another ecologist at Cornell who was part of the city’s interagency deer task force. A few bucks in Ithaca, N.Y. were given vasectomies as part of a multi-year study on deer controls in and around the campus there. “We could only do three vasectomies — it wasn’t safe for the deer and wasn’t safe for us,” Curtis said.
That is from two men considered experts whose opinions were so highly valued that they consulted NewYork City Hall officials on this plan. Men who obviously were sought and listened to, and then obviously ignored. That’s foolhardy and poor government, at the least.
What’s the Scenario?
Staten Island is 57 square miles in size. It is one of NYC’s five boroughs and is the least populated with about 475,000 residents. It has numerous wooded parks, swamps, open parks and golf courses, and a large industrial area. The Fresh Kills Landfill was the world’s largest, at one point, and closed in 2001. The capped landfill is being converted into a public park and will be more than three times the size of 700-acre Central Park, which means even more habitat for deer. (Although I’m greatly in favor of using reclaimed land like this. Kudos to NYC for converting the landfill.)
With all this wooded land, future park land, protected areas, the mostly-confined population on the eastern side of the island and a prohibition on hunting, giving deer vasectomies on this big island is the grand plan to solve the problem?
From one story: “Mayor Bill de Blasio and other city officials argue that this is the fastest and most humane way to limit further growth of the potentially dangerous white-tailed population.”
No, it’s not. It absolutely is not the fastest or most humane way in any form. Killing these deer is the fastest, most humane and best option. You may not like it, but it is. You may think it couldn’t be done on a populated New York island, but it can. It’s done in other cities in neighborhoods every year. Hunters are used in concert with federal USDA sharpshooters to cull deer and get numbers down immediately.
Giving bucks vasectomies is absolutely idiotic. It’s a waste of money. The plan reeks of a feel-good, do-gooder liberal stopgap instead of doing the proper thing. It will not work, just like the efforts to provide contraceptives to does in other areas have not worked. Why?
Because the problem still will be there.
Vasectomy Idea is Nuts
If you’re hitting deer with cars, a buck with a vasectomy isn’t going to miraculously avoid roads.
If deer are eating your shrubbery, vasectomies and contraceptives won’t make them less hungry.
If deer are ruining your golf course, chasing people during the breeding period, being aggressively protective of fawns after the spring birth and causing other problems, they still will be there even if you provide contraceptives or vasectomies. They still will be there eating and running into roads and being deer.
Killing them and removing them from the island is the best option. Elimination is the best option. Period.
It works in other cities, even in neighborhoods. It works in parks where overpopulated deer have browsed to the point of starvation. I saw that firsthand in Birmingham, Ala., at Oak Mountain State Park. The state conservation department set up an urban bowhunting program and the first couple of years also brought in sharpshooters. Hunters were killing 4- and 5-year old deer that weighed about 100 pounds or less. The deer were riddled with parasites and starving. A browse line of about 5-6 feet was visible in the woods. Deer were eating cedars and pines, which is like a pizza-loving fat guy begging for tofu.
Today, the state park’s herd is manageable and healthier. Alabama’s conservation department didn’t try to trap and relocate. They didn’t try to give the deer vasectomies or contraceptives. They informed the public and surrounding neighborhoods, had an all-hands-on-deck effort and got the job done. The park is in better shape now and, although adjacent neighbors still see some deer and have issues, it wasn’t like it was 10 or more years ago.
Eliminating and removing the problem works. Even the experts from Cornell University say it likely will fail. It’s unsafe to the workers. It won’t get the desired outcome. And yet big government is ready to push on, spending taxpayer money on a foolish project.
I’d say this is typical of a Northeast liberal “save the widdle animals” mentality, but it’s not. That would be unfair. In other cities where urban hunting has been debated, accepted or rejected, there have been untold numbers of bleeding-heart animal “rights” activists who want to save all the animals. What is lost amid all this deep but misguided passion is the realization that conservation is not preservation; they’re two different things.
The other thing is that hunting is prohibited by statute on the island and across the river in NYC and part of Long Island. So to allow it on Staten Island would require a change in statute. Given all the lunacy that goes on in state politics I’d wager that never would happen. Sad, but true.
I have friends in New York. They tell me there’s a distinct, clear difference between “New York City” and other parts of the state. I believe it. Because they, and their city leaders, wouldn’t be considering something so idiotic and destined to fail with $2 million and manpower for a problem that’s easy to solve.
From Deer & Deer Hunting Magazine, the 2016 Whitetails Wall Calendarfeatures the work of deer researchers Wayne Laroche and Charlie Alsheimer, who reveal the 2016 whitetail rut prediction, based on years of lunar cycle research. Utilize this deer moon phase calendar to find out which days the deer will be seeking and chasing so you can time the rut for the best time to hunt.