Deer Work Faulted in East Hampton

Deer Work Faulted, East Hampton Star, March 24, 2016

The village has spent approximately $190,000 on the effort to date, and critics have argued that the process is cruel and ineffective, and have claimed that the surgery resulted in several deaths.

“Responsible, well-planned hunting is by far the most successful way to control the deer population within the village and would be in keeping with the deer management plan of its neighbor, the Town of East Hampton,” Mr. O’Riordan said. Drugs or chemicals used in the capture and sterilization process, he said, could “compromise the safety of the meat of a legal game animal . . . denying state residents of their right to harvest an animal to feed themselves, their friends, and their relatives.”

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HSUS’s Failed Deer Fertility Control Plan

Most recently, the radical animal rights organization attempted to push back against an urban hunt in Ann Arbor, Michigan, by proposing the non-lethal fertility control method. The City Administration there had recommended the hiring of sharpshooters to conduct annual culls of deer in the urban areas starting in 2016. This plan would also include a recommended ban on feeding deer and greater study of herd population size and movement. All of these are logical ideas meant to curtail a booming deer population in the city, and eliminate the well-known threats deer overpopulation causes.

These methods were recommended after a Cornell University study found that even with a 90% medication rate using HSUS-preferred sterilization methods; you can only stabilize the deer population. Additionally, the study pointed out that in suburban landscapes, like Ann Arbor, over 95% of female deer must be able to be surgically sterilized or the community should not even consider a sterilization program for population control. The cost of such a method would exceed $1,200 per deer.

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Living with Deer in Illinois

Other Control Methods

Other deer population control methods, such as sterilization or relocation, are not viable options. If the deer population in a given area is already high, merely sterilizing the deer that are already present will do nothing to reduce deer numbers in the short-term and is typically expensive. Use of surgical sterilization and immunocontraceptive (IC) vaccines continues on an experimental basis in some areas of the country. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) may register the new IC vaccine, GonaCon, for use on free-ranging white-tailed deer. However, the highest effectiveness achieved (in stopping does from reproducing) during two field trials was 88 percent during the first year post-treatment on one site, and the effectiveness fell to 46 and 47 percent during year two on both sites. The EPA registration may specify that GonaCon must be hand-injected. Although it has been demonstrated that ICs can be used to prevent reproduction by individual animals for multiple years (in captive settings), not enough animals can be captured and treated in wild deer populations to have any significant population reduction effect.

Relocation of white-tailed deer in Illinois is no longer a viable option due to potential for spreading unwanted wildlife disease (such as CWD) and/or parasites. Additionally, the stresses of capture and transport lead to low survival of the deer.

Follow up on message from

To follow up on my message on, I think even the advocacy biologists at the national humane society would agree with my assertion about the futility of the non-lethal deer management approaches, though you would have to press them to admit it.

This article on the deer culling controversy in Bloomington, published in Sept 2014, is revealing. ” When a member of the audience asserted that PZP was not effective, Griffin admitted that PZP has never been used in an open system like Griffy Lake.” Stephanie Boyles Griffin is the “senior director of innovative wildlife management and services for the Humane Society” and was subsequently invited to Ann Arbor to discuss the non-lethal options. The associated headline from on August 12, 2015 read “Humane Society concludes deer fertility control is feasible in Ann Arbor” and appeared in my mailbox as a news flash five days before the A2 council was expected to make a decision on whether to conduct the cull.

It is pretty clear that proposals for further studies are a delaying tactic. I cannot really even imagine the logistics of an experiment to test the efficacy of non-lethal methods. Would there be a control study with an undisturbed deer herd, and another in which culling was employed? It is an experimental design that the HSHV would be opposed to. And it would cost well over $100k if you wanted to involve U-M researchers. Of course, it is unlikely that any U-M researcher would take on the project because it is so easy to predict the outcome.

I am disappointed that a noble institution such as the HSHV has been taken over by such dogmatic leaders (pun intended) that have polarized our community over this issue. If the council is interested in more fact-checking from the ecological perspective I’d be happy to engage some of my colleagues on the topic as well.

best regards

Chris Dick
Director, University of Michigan Herbarium
Director, ES George Reserve
Associate Professor and Curator

Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
University of Michigan

How much does it cost to give a deer contraceptives?

From DeerFriendly, covering the Ann Arbor City Council meeting last week

Ann Arbor, Ann Arbor officials expected to make a decision on deer culling by next month July 14, 2015, MLive
… Injecting PZP pellets into deer — either by hand or using a dart gun — renders deer temporarily infertile. Boyles Griffin said a $25 dose lasts about one year, while a $230 dose can last about two or three years.

Another article I read on deer contraception said

“After the authors ran the model their results estimated a cost of $359 per treated antlerless deer. It should be pointed out that this figure assumed that all deer were darted only once. This is important, because presently there is no one-shot contraceptive currently available. They also assumed all the female deer would be effectively treated with PZP, even though misses, poor hits or malfunctioning darts would certainly occur. Additionally, they incorporated the cost of shooting button bucks which would surely increase the total cost.”, By C.J. Winand, whitetail biologist from Randallstown, MD

Does get pregnant starting their first year and may live, bearing fawns, for 15 years, barring car-vehicle accidents. That would be up to seven treatments per doe during her lifetime. The cost of the contraceptive, per deer then, would be approximately $2100.

Now this is the cost of the doses of contraceptive only. Does not take into account the tranquilizer, the baiting, the staff needed to tranquilize then inject the deer with contraceptive, the housing of those “administrators,” or the actual administration of this ongoing project.

Lets get our facts straight. This is definitely not the same cost as culling a deer. Nor does it provide any meat for donations.

The cost of contraception is more than 7 times as much as to safely cull a deer and writing something different, does not make it so.


HSUS is entering its second year of a 5 year test of PZP as a means of controlling the deer population of Hastings-on-Hudson. HOH is a town of about 7500 people with an estimated 120 deer.

There’s nothing new about PZP or the Hastings-on-Hudson experiment that should make this option one that should be seriously considered for Ann arbor. PZP failed to receive EPA approval for deer because the USDA found that PZP does not stop the estrus cycle in does and thereby causes problematic behaviors in the bucks. Even the island experiments, with isolated populations, did not validate PZP use:The National Park Service has, gone back to culling on Fire Island. Deer contraceptives are now considered “pesticides” under the regulatory authority of the EPA at the federal level.

Hastings-on-Hudson’s PZP project is a five year experiment, now in it second year, to test PZP in free-roaming deer, although it has ultimately failed even in isolated populations.

PZP has not been certified for deer population control in a free-roaming population at the state level here in Michigan. No local entity here in Ann Arbor was willing to submit a proposal for a PZP experiment to the Michigan DNR after learning what they would require to even consider allowing a non-EPA-approved drug to be used in a free-ranging population. That is why there was no nonlethal herd reduction strategy presented at the Slauson meeting but only Rochester Hills’ damage mitigation and prevention efforts.

The Cornell study clearly notes that no nonlethal method can bring down an overabundant population effectively. Any nonlethal method can only be used at best to stabilize a population that has been brought down to target levels by lethal methods.

From the newly published Cornell Study

So we know what the options mean, I have copied the Deer Manager’s Toolbox from the Cornell Study here.

A Deer Manager’s Toolbox – Lethal Control


Research conducted on the capture and translocation of deer suggests that animals are stressed during the process, and experience high mortality after release, which is why we choose to place this method in with other lethal controls. Translocation is cost prohibitive, may increase the spread of disease, and few places would accept these animals. [Prohibited in Michigan.]

Predator Reintroduction

Deer predators such as wolves and mountain lions were extirpated over much of their range, and recent work has shown that coyote predation does not control overabundant deer populations, with the exception of very special circumstances. At this time, wildlife management agencies are unlikely to advocate for release of
mountain lions or wolves in our region due to biological constraints in suburban landscapes, and stakeholder concerns over resource use and safety. It is also questionable whether large predators would have the ability to control abundant deer populations given the ratio of predator to prey. In Wisconsin’s remaining wolf range, for example, there are likely more than 1,000 deer for every wolf, a clear indication that wolves by themselves, while certainly feeding on deer, will not be able to control or reduce deer numbers sufficiently.

Regulated Hunting

This is often the first method proposed as a solution for deer problems, and is advocated by both state wildlife management agencies and hunters. Successful deer reduction via hunting depends on a community’s established objectives. For example, hunting, where permitted, may be useful in reducing some level of DVCs, or when implemented before deer populations become too large. This method, along with sterilization, comprised the core of Cornell’s initial deer management approach. Our experiences with regulated hunting at Cornell, along with many other communities in the U.S., suggest difficulty in reducing deer abundance to a level that achieves ecological goals.

Capture and Euthanize

Methods used to capture and euthanize deer include drop nets, Clover traps, or darting to capture deer, followed by penetrating captive bolt, exsanguination, firearms, or chemical euthanization. In most instances, these methods will require contracting with professionals from USDA/APHIS/Wildlife Services, law enforcement, or private contractors. Although we have successfully used Clover traps and penetrating captive bolt, a technique approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the American Veterinary Medical Association and by Cornell’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, to euthanize deer in dense suburban areas, staff time and expense were concerns for its continued use.

Bait and Shoot

This is the only method we are aware of that has demonstrated quick reductions in suburban deer populations. While bait and shoot has clearly reduced deer numbers and DVCs in numerous suburban communities, we are not able to assess whether deer reductions have also resulted in reductions in ecological impacts. We are pursuing this work on Cornell lands, but we cannot provide much evidence at this time. Bait and shoot methods may be divided into either volunteer contributions, such as in our DDP efforts at Cornell, or contractual services by professionals. In both instances, participants bait deer into locations where discharge of bows, crossbows, or firearms is safe; and deer are shot at close range. This method is most effective on naïve deer herds unfamiliar with hunting. Although hunted deer tend to be much more cautious, bait-and-shoot methods can still lead to population reductions. Using contractual services is expensive, but time spent afield is greatly reduced, and costs are generally much less than fertility control. Bait-and-shoot techniques are clearly the most likely to reduce deer populations to the lowest levels possible, given all of today’s options.

Regulated Commercial Hunting

Under current laws and regulations, this method is not legal in most states. This proposed method may include contracting deer management out to approved individuals or companies, or expanding the ability of recreational hunters to sell meat or other deer parts. Contractors or individuals would be able to sell venison at market prices to cover their time and costs. Numerous and notable wildlife professionals in the U.S. support and continue to debate this method. North American wildlife management agencies have not moved forward with the idea of bringing back commercial hunting, and the sale of wild-caught venison is prohibited in most states. Moreover, hunters who consider it a threat to their recreational pursuits vehemently oppose commercial hunting. Ironically, venison sold in U.S. stores is either farm-raised or imported from New Zealand, where white-tailed deer were introduced and have become an invasive pest species, and where deer are
commercially hunted. [Prohibited in Michigan.]

A Deer Manager’s Toolbox – Nonlethal Control

Change Ornamental Planting Regimes

The recommendations to use non-palatable plantings often contain non-native, sometimes invasive species, and thus not ecologically-acceptable options. Furthermore, widely planting just a few reliably deer-resistant plants will greatly reduce local biodiversity with unacceptable consequences for native insects and birds that require native species as food and shelter.

Repellents (Chemical and Physical)

Repellents in various forms (chemical or nonchemical, such as scare devices in gardens or along roadways) may have short-term effects, if at all, but they are not a permanent solution, despite widespread claims.


Although some deer can clear an 8-foot-high fence, depending on terrain, this minimum height can be effective for keeping deer out of high-value areas permanently, but it excludes other wildlife, has high initial costs, and pushes deer into adjacent unfenced areas. Fences will remain an essential option to guard roads, high-value ornamental plantings, or threatened populations of native species. However, they have no effect on overall deer abundance in a community.

Fertility Control

At present, sterilization can only be performed on deer in New York State as part of approved scientific studies and requires a DEC License to Collect and Possess (LCP) research animals. In other states, you should contact your state wildlife agency to determine applicable laws and regulations. Such regulations change frequently, and you need to keep up to date. Until further data are gathered and analyzed, this technique continues to be experimental, and is not an approved method routinely available to managers. See study for a more in-depth treatment of fertility control.

Attempting to manage a suburban deer herd using fertility control alone will not likely be successful in areas with high deer densities. Deer are long-lived (>12 years), and without mortality, sterilized female deer will continue ecological and social impacts unabated, except for the gradual attrition of deer killed by vehicles. Modeling has shown that removing a female deer has two to three times the impact on population growth than sterilizing a female deer. Managing a deer herd via vehicle collisions is both inhumane and costly for community residents.


Why deer contraceptives are not used in Michigan for free-roaming deer at this time

Deer contraceptives for wildlife are now regulated at the federal level by the EPA. PZP, the immunocontraceptive promoted by the Humane Society of the US, is accepted by the EPA for wild horses, but not for free-roaming populations of white-tailed deer. It does not seem likely that Michigan DNR would approve a drug that is not approved by the EPA, however much they would be willing to “look into” the subject.

The main federal agency that has been conducing research to evaluate wildlife contraceptives is the US Department of Agriculture. Here’s what they say about PZP at
“The PZP vaccine is a highly effective contraceptive, but unfortunately it causes multiple estrous cycles in female deer. These multiple cycles and the recurrent sexual activity (and deer movements) associated with them may increase deer-vehicle collisions and other deer-human conflicts. The PZP vaccine does not seem to cause multiple estrous cycles in other species on which it has been tested, and it may prove to be a highly useful infertility agent for other wildlife.”

Another immunocontraceptive, GonaCon, has actually been accepted by the EPA for use in female white-tailed deer one year of age and older. GonaCon claims the advantage of avoiding the need for booster shots, but it is administered by trapping the deer and injecting the drug. See

Gonacon’s effectiveness is only about 50% in preventing pregnancy. EPA classifies it as a “restricted-use pesticide, and all users must be certified pesticide applicators. Only USDA-WS or state wildlife management agency personnel or individuals working under their authority can use it. In order for GonaCon to be used in any given state, it must also be registered with the state and approved for use by the state fish and game/natural resource agency.” The State of Michigan has not approved GonaCon for use on deer in Michigan.

Bernie Banet

#A2manydeer #deercontraceptives

Response to initiative to eliminate questions about acceptability of lethal methods of controling deer population

I understand why the “Research shows…” questions in the survey questions about lethal methods might be considered “leading” and biased, eliciting protests from certain quarters. However, what I am wondering is, did anyone show you even one single piece of research that shows that any of the non-lethal deer population control methods (Contraceptives, sterilization, trap-and-release) have been shown to be safe and effective in reducing the population in a free-ranging herd of deer? If not, it seems to me that, despite protests, there was no fact-based reason to withdraw the questions. Lethal approaches are effective and safe. Just ask Huron-Clinton Metroparks, for example, or Oakland County Parks. Non-lethal methods of herd reduction haven’t been shown to work anywhere in an urban/suburban non-isolated setting, to my knowledge. (Examples like Rochester Hills show feature non-lethal approaches — but to damage prevention, not population reduction).

Because success stories in the real world (i.e. not fenced-in properties or islands) for these non-lethal approaches are hard, perhaps impossible, to find, I am wondering whether in fact we are misleading people by asking them for opinions about options that will not gain regulatory approval for our situation in the foreseeable future, despite DNR’s stated “openness” yesterday evening to consider proposals.. In my reading, even the cases put forth regularly by anti-cull proponents, e.g. Fire Island and Cornell, have turned out to be failure stories when it comes to suitability of non-lethal approaches. On Fire Island, NY the National Park Service is culling, deeming PZP after years of study as impractical. Cleveland Metroparks spent $500,000 studying a contraceptive related to PZP. They are culling.

I am aware of the current Humane Society-promoted Hastings-on-Hudson study of darting does with PZP, but that is in the first year of a five-year study and the first year did not have success even in darting the intended animals. I’m also aware of intention to sterilize does in East Hampton, NY, subsidized as perhaps only the Hamptons could accomplish — but I don’t believe we have any results from that at this time. The Cornell study, mentioned last night, actually showed the clear failure of tubal ligation as a population control method. As you may have heard, It turned the ever-ready sterilized does into “buck magnets.”

My conclusion: It’s not the statement that research favors lethal methods that is misleading. More likely to be misleading is the implied message in the survey that there are non-lethal methods of herd reduction that might actually be implemented in the near future despite not being permitted today.

#A2manydeer #deercontraceptive #wc4eb

Input, Citizen’s Meeting on Deer, Dec 10, 2014– Huron High School

First, thank you to the city council and the city of Ann Arbor for reaching out to get citizen input. And Mr. Bahl, Mr. Fleetham, and Ms. Bissell for organizing and driving this meeting. Second, I’d like to thank all those who have participated, either online or in meetings like this; this sort of process is key to good and successful government.

You will hear tonight from many sources, citing studies and historical data, experts in ecology, environmental sciences and botany. I won’t take your time repeating that information…not only can you hear it in other comments but you can find it online at sites that are being promoted in handouts. It’s great data and incredibly valuable…I’ll let it speak for itself. I can tell you what is clear to me, after studying years of analysis from institutions and communities in Michigan, the Midwest and the East Coast, that:

    * the deer situation is shifting; populations are growing and incursion is spreading

    * habitat change is driving deer into populated regions

    * the risk and destruction are increasing, both on an ecological basis and from a public safety perspective

    * there is a range of options, but the two primary solutions are contraception and culling

    * a number of communities have already wrestled with this issue and usually end up choosing to cull; contraception is ineffective and expensive

I’d like to address in my short time, though, a very foundational issue that comes up in virtually every discussion I have around the issue of deer management in Ann Arbor: is culling consistent with the values of Ann Arbor?

I have four thoughts on this:

    * first. Allowing the Situation to grow is not a value of this town. If we don’t address this now, we’ll be back here next year or the next, and the numbers will be greater and even more unpalatable. And hopefully we won’t be talking about a human fatality.

    * second, managing on a home by home basis doesn’t solve the problem, it merely rewards the most diligent and capable. If I fence and spray, the deer go next door. NIMBY, not in my backyard, is not a value.

    * third, control through harassment, random denial of food, trapping, or death by hood ornament is less humane than focused, clear and deliberate action.

    * last, we value nature; what is happening is not natural. Deer and urban areas are incompatible. Racing across congested roads is not natural. Being chased by people and dogs is not natural. Fencing our properties and spreading caustic agents is not natural. Eliminating predators is not natural. We should encourage population management techniques that are consistent with the current ecological capacity.

We’re not alone. This issue has been around in other communities for years. We can learn from their mistakes and successes. These include college communities like ours. We are a community that values learning and adjusting our response to match the circumstances. The policies that worked before are no longer effective.

Tracy Grogan

#A2manydeer #wc4eb #realfactsabouturbandeer