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.

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.


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

Deer Overabundance in Ann Arbor is a Threat to Human Health and Safety

Comments: Bernie Banet December 10, 2014, Deer Management Meeting

Deer caused over 49,000 collisions in Michigan in 2013, with 1212 people injured and 12 killed. Many of the 49,000 deer, of course, were killed or injured in this inhumane method of deer population control. Insurance companies say car crashes cost Michiganders $130,000,000.

In 2013 there were 1,058 reported deer collisions with vehicles in Washtenaw County, 36 involved personal injury and 50 car-deer crashes in the city of Ann Arbor. Neighboring Scio Township has the second highest number of deer crashes in the state. Normally, when a car crash causes personal injury, attorneys like those at Valiente Mott can help to seek compensation for the victim, but obviously this is not the case when a deer is the cause of the crash. Deer crashes occur in many locations in the city and county over the years, as seen on the map in our handout, and it is not clear that signage or roadside vegetation pruning will be effective in controlling them. This is especially so if the herd keeps multiplying as it would if the “do nothing” option in regard to herd reduction is selected.

Another looming threat to human health in our town is Lyme disease, a debilitating tickborne bacterial disease. Other tick-borne diseases are also a threat when the tick population increases. Lyme disease is famously prevalent and dangerous in New England and the Middle Atlantic region of our country but is also found in western Michigan along the Lake Michigan shore, and appears to be advancing toward Washtenaw County. Lyme infests Wisconsin and Minnesota and parts of Ohio, too, so there’s no reason to think we are immune.

It is true that deer do not directly transmit Lyme disease to ticks and deer do not in that sense “carry” Lyme disease. What happens is more complex. Deer host the adult deer ticks, a.k.a black-legged ticks, giving them a blood meal before they lay eggs. In the life cycle of the tick the eggs become larvae which become nymphs and then adults. It is at the tick’s nymph stage that the ticks become infected, usually from a reservoir of the disease bacteria in a small mammal such as a mouse that is their host at that stage of their life cycle. It is also at the nymph stage that the tick typically carries the disease to humans. Because the deer (or more rarely other large mammals) are essential hosts for the adult ticks, reducing the density of the
deer population is a prime public health strategy for preventing Lyme disease.

The State of Michigan Emerging Disease Issues web page,4579,7-186-25890_26140-75872–,00.html
states: “Deer supply the tick that transmits the bacterium with a place to mate and provides a blood meal for the female tick prior to production of eggs. Research shows that reducing the deer population in an affected area to a level of 8 – 12 deer per square mile virtually eliminates ticks and Lyme Disease in humans.”

#A2manydeer #wc4eb #realfactsabouturbandeer

Another dead deer on Green Rd.

My husband went off to a meeting early this morning, around 7:45am. He said he saw a large deer, dead by the street at the corner of Vintage Valley and Green Rd. Wasn’t positive it was a doe– might have been a buck, because it was large. It was too dark out to take a picture.

He was back two hours later and the deer was gone.

The city of Ann Arbor is certainly efficient about dealing with deer carcasses. This is the third dead deer we’ve seen in the neighborhood that has disapeared within a very few hours.

Good job, Ann Arbor. What department is responsible for this?
Good thing they were all “curbside”.

Wonder how the cars, passengers, and drivers fared?


Watch the video- Deer Management Forum, Cornell University

View Deer Management Forum, Cornell University, Nov 13, 2013. This was public Deer Management Panel Discussion sponsored by Cornell Plantations and the Atkinson Center, about coordinated deer management within Tompkins County.

This forum, with a panel of experts, deals with environmental impact or deer and forest regeneration, impacts on vegetation, insects and birds, Lyme Disease (exponential growth), deer-vehicle accidents and how some cities/villages/campus are dealing with it.

Panel included Award-winning journalist, Jim Sterba, Cornell Faculty Fellows Bernd Blossey and Paul Curtis, mayors of Lansing and Cayuga Heights and Jeremy Hurst, NY DEC.