Deer and Deer Management in New York State
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.”
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.
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.
“Capturing deer can be completed using many methods (traps, nets, etc.), but the most humane method is via chemical immobilization (CI) drugs delivered with darts.”
When they are unconscious, the deer is transported to temporary sugical site.
From Sterilization: Surgery and Recovery, Wildlife Control Information, Cornell University
Deer will be intubated for gas anesthesia, tipped up at a 45-degree angle on a laparotomy table.
Post-surgery, deer will be monitored until they begin to regain consciousness. Then they will be transported by truck back to their site of capture and released.
Any deer that dies due to capture accidents, capture myopathy, or surgical complications will be necropsied to determine the cause of death.
How much was spent (2015)
This effort, as mentioned, is a cooperative project with the Humane Society of the United States and Tufts University. They provide personnel and some expenses, and we cover the rest. (The particulars have been spelled out in a partnership agreement signed by the Humane Society and the Village.) The Village has spent $13,724.69 so far on this year’s effort. A third of these costs were unexpected extraordinary costs for field cameras that we plan to utilize in subsequent years for population verification (more on this later in the document) and will not reoccur, and the majority of the remaining went for rent of a house to lodge the Deer Team for the two month period. We realized a substantial savings on a per diem and per person basis over last year, where we had to house two professionals in local hotels. This year, we had a team of four plus a supervisor that was frequently in town and stayed at the house as well. (The housing came to about $35/day a person which is approximately 25% of what local hotel fares run.)
We still expect a bill from the Humane Society for expenses incurred by the team during the two month period, and a $6,000 donation from the In Defense of Animals, the second half of a two-year grant they provided us. It would appear that this year’s final expenses, after reimbursement of the grant, will be in the vicinity of $12,000. This will be 20% more than last year when the total expenses were $9,606.07. We have, however, doubled the field team and almost doubled the amount of time they were on the ground in the Village and thus this represents a small increase in the overall cost. We expect next year’s expenses to be lower as the work will be likely confined to less than two months. We expect to rent housing in the same price range on a monthly basis. We will be applying for a $10K grant which we hope will offset next year’s costs so that our out-of-pocket expenses next year should be well under $10,000.
Question: How many does received PZP immunocontraceptive vaccinations (in two-year doses) in Hastings-on-Hudson in 2015?
- Answer: 21 (and one buck captured and tagged but not treated). Only eight were vaccinated in 2014, the first year of the project.
Question: What is the net cost per doe to the Village of Hastings-on-Hudson for PZP injections in 2015?
- Answer supplied by Bernie Banet, Ann Arbor based on $12,000/21 =
- Approximately $571.00 per doe after subsidies from other sources for personnel and a $6000 donation to the Village from In Defense of Animals, the group that has misrepresented the City of Ann Arbor’s’s Deer Management Project in multiple ways in a national e-mail campaign. The approximation results from using the Village’s estimate of $12,000 as “final expenses.”
Hastings-on-Hudson is a suburb of NYC. According to the United States Census Bureau, the village has a total area of 2.9 square miles (7.5 km2), of which 2.0 square miles (5.2 km2) is land and 0.9 square miles (2.3 km2), or 32.65%, is water.
Learn more about H-O-H
In 2007, the Villages, a gated community with semi-permeable fencing, proposed thinning their deer herd by usiing archers. Protests prevented the plan from going ahead. After discussions, it was agreed that the company White Buffalo would tranquilize the does and perform ovariectomies [some tubal ligations were also performed]. The process began at the end of January, 2013, and was completed in early February. Below is a recent update on the success of this project. Based on a prelliminary population estimate and two follow up estimates, there has been about a 20 percent reduction in the deer population in the first year with another reduction of about 20 percent in the second year based on an estimate done in November, 2014 — about a 40 percent reduction in the population over less than two years.
The recent report summary appears below. A complete copy of this report, including data tables, is attached as a word document at the bottom of this page.
Deer Distance Sampling Estimate, The Villages Golf and Country Club, San Jose, California, by White Buffalo, Inc. 11 November 2014
We used a population estimation method called Distance Sampling as we have over the past 4 years. This approach is based on the premise that you can determine the width of a transect traveled by creating a detection probability from the field observations (i.e., number of deer and distance from the transect). In simple terms, the software program projects the area sampled and then integrates the the number of deer observed in that area to determine density. We used the same non-overlapping spotlighting route that was defined during the population estimate conducted in September 2010, October 2012, and September 2013. Spotlighting surveys were conducted from 1530-1800 h on 5-9 November 2014. The transect was 9.1 miles long and was surveyed once each evening.
While driving 10 mph spotters searched their respective side of the road. Upon sighting deer, the number in each social group, age and sex of the individuals, ear tag number if present, and the perpendicular distance to the group was recorded. These data were then entered into a software program (Distance-Version 6.0) that estimated the deer density.
We counted 26–49 deer (14-19 groups of deer) on the 4 transect replicates. Deer were observed from 0-158 yards from the road, with most observations occurring <60 yards. The weather was consistent during the observation period; a light wind, clear, and temperatures 65-75 degrees F. The estimated density for the area surveyed was 86 deer/mile2 (range 65-114). As was the case in all previous years, deer appeared to be concentrated in the southern and eastern areas of the property, as is evident by the observations recorded on the attached data sheets. The ~20% reduction is slightly higher other suburban deer mortality rates; typically ~15%. Detection rates and demographics The demographics of the population are ~70% yearling/adult females, ~0% fawns, and ~30% yearling/adult males based on observations during the survey. In addition to Distance Sampling, we used observations of tagged and radio-collared deer to create a population estimate, given that a high-percentage of the population is marked. We verified that four collared females died since last October (2013). We observed 7 of the 9 collared females inside the fence (one is outside - #73) without intentionally tracking them, a 78% detection rate. We observed 60 tagged females. If we extrapolate the radio-collared deer detection rates, then we would expect ~75 tagged females to be inside the fence. This is consistent with observations made this past summer by local volunteers (76 tagged females inside the fence). We observed 2.45 females for each male. If there are ~72 tagged females inside the fence (~72 adult females based on mortality since observations this summer), then there are ~30 yearling/adult males remaining (~40% of the number of females observed). We also counted individual antlered males and took photos of each to tally the known number of adult males present. We counted a minimum of 26 individually identifiable males. Fawn recruitment, immigration, mortality, and population estimate We did not observe any fawns or untagged females. We observed 12 relocated deer inside the fence (including one relocated male - #42). We know of 8 double white tagged deer that have died since October 2013 (#12, 28, 80, and 107; and 4 collared females: #4, 76, 104, and 106) and two relocated deer (927Y/7W, 941W/37W). There are several females that have not been observed for over a year that could either be dead or emigrated. We estimated there to be ~128 deer inside the fence at the completion of our efforts in October 2013, and there are ~102 deer inside the fence presently (~72 adult females based on mortality since observations this summer, and ~30 adult males). This compares closely to the distance sampling projections that estimate there to be ~95 deer in the 700 acre fenced area (86 deer/mile2 X 1.1 mile2). Therefore, there has been a net population change of ~20% over the past year. After the second year it is still very clear that it is imperative to maintain a near 100% sterilize rate to experience a significant population reduction where densities are high relative to the goal (i.e., the Villages’ goal is 40-60 deer).
Note: fenced in area, HAS TO BE REPEATED annually to ensure you are getting all deer
San Jose: Deer at the Villages to be sterilized, San Jose Mercury News, Jan 22, 2013
At The Villages, the 30 relocated animals will be placed just outside the community’s fence, and DeNicola said that will minimize stress that comes from transporting the animals.
San Jose Senior Community To Sterilize Deer Herd After Population Explosion, SF CBS, Jan 22, 2013
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.