It seems like every time I get on the computer I see another article about another city or town considering deer sterilization. At first, I thought maybe it’s not a bad idea in some of these more urban areas where there is very limited, or even no hunting permitted. But, the deer hunter and animal lover in me decided I needed to learn more before I could come to such a conclusion. So, I have now done my research and educated myself. I can now state my opinion on this topic with absolute certainty; my mind is made up!
Before I tell you how I feel about it, let me share with you what I have learned about deer sterilization. First of all, deer sterilization focuses on does; every doe that is bred during the rut equals to 1-2 more deer added to the herd size the following spring. So, for example, if you have a deer herd containing 30 does, that could add up to an additional 60 deer. And, I can honestly see where this could be an issue in towns, cities, or other urban areas. But, is sterilization the answer?
So, just how are these urban areas sterilizing their deer? Well, the deer are primarily captured by shooting them with tranquilizer guns. From there these does are taken to a makeshift surgical location, sometimes located in a homeowner’s garage, where they then have their ovaries surgically removed. According to White Buffalo Inc., the nonprofit organization at the forefront of the deer sterilization movement, “The animal is typically in and out of surgery in less than 20 minutes, and the mortality rate is less than 1%.” The sterilized doe is tagged and returned to its’ natural habitat after surgery.
Several areas have utilized the services of White Buffalo Inc., whose goal is to sterilize at least 80% to 90% of all does in the targeted locations. And, there are even some locations who have chosen to sterilize 100% of the does in the area. Some of the towns, cities, and areas that have used White Buffalo Inc.’s services include: several villages located in San Jose, CA, Town and Country, MO, Phoenix, MD, villages in Cayuga Heights, NY, Fairfax, VA, and the city of Clifton, OH. And, there are many more cities, towns, and other areas considering moving in this same direction.
As I mentioned earlier, White Buffalo Inc. is a nonprofit organization. And, deer sterilization is not a cheap process. The cost to sterilize each doe is approximately $1,000. With that said, then how do these cities and towns afford such expensive procedures? Even if an area only has 20 does to sterilize, that is a cost of $20,000. I don’t know of too many cities or towns that have that kind of money to use. After all, the news is constantly full of headlines about fire departments and police departments being closed down due to lack of funds. And, I would certainly hope police and fire departments rank a little higher in importance than deer sterilization!
Okay, so back to where the money actually comes from. Let’s take Clifton, OH for instance; 41 does were sterilized in December 2015, for a total of approximately $41,000. The majority of this money came from private donations. Clifton has a webpage dedicated to this project. The city was able to raise over $40,000 to go toward the sterilization process. $20,000 was donated by the Humane Society, though I was unable to find information stating whether or not this was part of the $40,000 raised through the city’s webpage. And, East Hampton, NY? Well, they have raised over $110,000. So, it seems there is an overwhelming amount of support for deer sterilization.
We’ve talked about the process, the cost, and how it’s paid for. Now, let’s look at safety. The main focus on deer sterilization seems to be on how humane the process is. First, deer are being shot with tranquilizer guns, they are then having their ovaries removed in makeshift surgery bays. This alone does not sound very humane. I realize tranquilizer guns are often used for capturing and relocating animals, and they are considered relatively safe and humane. Of course, I still wouldn’t want to be shot with one. So, what happens to these does once they are carted off for their surgical procedures? Do they all survive? Are there long-term side effects? Well, first of all, no, they do not all survive the surgery. Some never wake up from the anesthesia. And, many of the ones that do survive have a shorter life span. It is believed that the stress of the capture and resulting surgery leads to kidney and heart disease, which in turn leads to the doe’s death.
So, there you have it. This is what I have learned about the deer sterilization process that seems to be growing in popularity. I understand that the deer population needs to be controlled, and in some areas it is more of an issue than in others. But, as for deer sterilization, I can honestly say that I do not agree with it, especially in areas that aim to sterilize 100% of the does. While there is no immediate danger of the extinction of whitetail deer in America, there is no way of knowing what the future holds. There are other ways to control the deer population. Let the hunters come in and cull the deer, use sharp shooters, and have more hunts. These methods can be beneficial in several ways. Not only can it bring money in to the area through the sales of licenses and tags, the meat can feed the hungry. And, yes, I realize there are people who will say that hunting is definitely not humane, but these are the people who do not understand hunting. They do not understand how strict the regulations are for these special urban hunts. Perhaps there is no 100% humane way to control whitetail deer, but hunting is part of our heritage, it is our right, and it will always exist. So, why not go with the option that seems to offer the greatest benefit?
Remember, this is just one doe’s opinon. I would love to hear your thoughts on deer sterilization! Are you for it or against it? Please feel free to share your opinions below, or as always, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about deer sterilization, check out the following links: