Deer Birth Control: New York Town Plans To Sterilize Female Deer After Overpopulation Leads To More Car Accidents, Bare Gardens [REPORT]
A deer birth control program is being implemented in Hastings-on-Hudson in New York where deer over-population has become an issue for the town's 7,900 residents. The overabundance of deer, which are notorious for chewing through gardens, overrunning the woods and causing car accidents, has prompted town officials to address the deer problem head on through sterilization. Authorities say the deer birth control program is a safe and humane way to address the overcrowding.
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"All the saplings are eaten," Nancy Balaban, one Hastings-on-Hudson resident, told AP regarding the effects of too many deer on the environment. "It's going to end up being a desert."
The Westchester County town of Hastings-on-Hudson is just two square miles in size. According to AP, the deer population is estimated to be around 120, or about 60 animals per square mile. That's three times the average deer density across the nation. Some residents have put up tall wrought-iron fences and netting to keep the deer out of their yards. The deer birth control program will go one step further by curbing the growth of the deer population and allowing it to decrease to a manageable level.
To achieve this goal, officials will inject the female white-tailed deer with a contraceptive made from pigs' ovaries. Yahoo reports that officials will trap, tranquilize, inoculate, tag and release as many as 90 percent of the female deer in Hastings. They hope to decrease the deer population in the town by 35 to 40 percent in five years.
"There are thousands of communities in the U.S. that are looking for alternative ways to manage the deer populations," Stephanie Boyles Griffin, a senior director at the Humane Society of the United States, told AP. "Hastings would be the first open suburb in the U.S. to manage deer exclusively through the use of immunocontraception."
Immunocontraception is a technique for managing animal populations without outright killing them - a method that doesn't sit well with the public. According to a study published by Allen Press, immunocontraception works by using an animal's own immune response to interrupt reproduction. It is based on developing antibodies to the zona pellucida, the membrane surrounding the mammalian egg cell.
The town of Hastings, along with the Humane Society and In Defense of Animals, will spend about $30,000 to sterilize the deer. If the deer birth control program can work in New York, it could be a good model for use elsewhere as well.
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