New York Town Surgically Sterilizes Does

Twelve does received sterilization procedures last month in Cayuga Heights, NY, to help control the village's oversized deer population. The undertaking took five days in early December and cost taxpayers $35,808. That breaks down to $2,984 spent per doe, a final price tag nearly triple the early estimates of $1,000 per doe, according to the Ithaca Journal.

The does were shot with tranquilizer darts and transported to a temporary surgical facility where their ovaries were removed. According to the original report by the wildlife management company, White Buffalo Inc., workers sterilized 11 new does and a twelfth doe whose surgery last year proved ineffective. The team also tranquilized a button buck in the process.

This sterilization process is not a new method of deer population control for Cayuga Heights. In December of 2012 the village spent $148,315 to sterilize 137 does. That figure breaks down to $1,082 per deer, and Cayuga Heights has since spent additional dollars on their deer problem. That includes more than $8,000 in legal consulting fees and more than $21,000 for a Cornell University study to determine the number of deer in the village.

The study concluded 225 deer lived in Cayuga Heights, or 125 deer per square mile. A wildlife specialist from Cornell's Department of Natural Resources recommended the community should strive for deer population densities less than 20 deer per square mile.

Cayuga Heights has struggled with its overabundant deer population for more than a decade. Interestingly, the village also banned the discharge of guns and bows within village limits in 1999. Disputes about controlling the deer population have since emerged among residents, including one lawsuit that favored the municipality.

In opposition to the 1999 ban, some residents are now pushing for an updated policy. Yesterday the village held a public hearing of a proposed law that would allow bowhunting within village limits exclusively for nuisance deer. However, no vote was scheduled during the meeting and the law implements a number of regulations that would complicate the process of eliminating problem deer, including obtaining a state permit that recognizes damage caused by deer. The mayor of Cayuga Heights, Kate Supron, said these permits are difficult to obtain.

Supron supports the sterilization of the village's deer herd and plans to continue with it in the future, calling a high percentage of sterilized does crucial for population control. She told the paper she expects a 10 to 15 percent drop in the village's deer population as a result of the most recent round of surgeries. Such a decrease would still result in more than 100 deer per square mile, well above the village's target goal.