“It’s birth control for deer!” Sounds like the kind of wacky idea a character like Kramer would come up with on a bizarre episode of Seinfeld.
Far too wacky of an idea to come from the brain trust over at Humane Society of the United States, though… Right? Wrong. These mad scientists often denounce the Ag industry for bioengineering fruits and vegetables, but they wouldn’t think twice about strapping some poor white-tailed deer to the metaphorical operating table or individually injecting it out in the woods in an attempt to sterilize it.
HSUS’s brilliant wildlife management plan involves this very premise, and they are attempting to implement it all over the country as their alternative to hunting.
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.
However, the City Administration realized there would be a variety of opinions about this objective study and even outright denials of its accuracy, so they offered to let the Humane Society of Huron Valley conduct their own study and were turned down. The HSHV refused to study a problem that they would have to later heavily weigh-in on.
With no contradictory evidence, the administration deemed the deer overpopulation problem too large for costly, experimental, and unapproved population management methods (e.g. birth control). This led them to their current recommendation package. Later, as suspected, the HSHV decided to fight the recommendation claiming that the problem was assessed too much on public opinion, and the elimination of the deer will just encourage birth spikes and immigration of deer from other areas (despite not having actually conducting a study of their own).
In an attempt to hinder the process of the recommended population control methods the small and radical citizen group led by Robert McGee, Ann Arbor Residents for Non-Lethal Deer Management, offered to pay for ‘experts’ from HSUS to conduct their own study. Open to all reasonable ideas from the beginning, the administration obliged them.
The results were nothing short of a joke.
The HSUS representatives, after surveying the land and deer patterns, claim that they can effectively sterilize around 65% of the doe population and in the very best of circumstances 85%. When you are talking about hundreds of deer this is, even in the ideal scenario, far below the 95% needed in an urban area as determined by the Cornell study (you know, the unbiased one). Yet, the representatives said that this low percentage should be enough to impact the population. You know, because they said so… that’s good enough right?
1) Get close enough to the deer to immobilize them with drugs in a dart gun, either through traps, nets, or pure luck.
2) Perform a sterilization surgery on the doe where they cut them open and take out the ovaries, which has to be done in less than 30 minutes not to hinder blood flow. Or, inject them with the first dose of a contraceptive drug and pray that they can find the same deer to inject the second dose.
3) Tag it, and release it back into the area hoping the tag will stop them from darting or trapping that same deer again, or tell them which deer need the second dose of the contraceptive drug. (Foolproof, right?)
They also recommend that the people in the city stop planting vegetation ‘preferred by deer,’ use repellents, and build more fences. . . because it’s the citizens fault that the deer are so overpopulated that they are literally bulging out of safer areas?
Luckily, the council saw the ridiculousness of HSUS and considered the impossibility of their plans success as determined by the non-biased source (Cornell University). The Ann Arbor News reported that the city council voted 8-1 in favor of using the city administration’s proposal that included sharpshooter culls for the next four years. The plan begins with the culling of 100 deer in the winter of 2016.
It is easy to see why the lethal option of population control makes more sense – it is safer, more humane, and more efficient. It is the quickest way to reduce the chance of deer-to-vehicle collisions, alleviate stress on the environment, and limit the spread of disease. Even if the birth control method were effective, it’s a long-term solution. Birth control does not have a rapid enough response to keep people safe.
Lethal culling is more humane than birth control. Since the removal of natural predators, the balance of wildlife has to be meticulously controlled. Too many deer creates threats of starvation, dehydration, and other cruel ends (car crashes etc.). Sharp shooting population control allows trained professionals to end the lives of the deer quickly and efficiently, prolonging the success of the species with no duress to the individual animal. It is also more cost effective. While an HSUS recommended surgery costs around $1,200 per deer, the culling fee is only around $150 per deer.
On the other hand, deer sterilization and contraception has continuously failed to limit deer population. Studies in Washington in 2009 showed that no form of birth control halts the mating cycle of the deer. This increases the time that does are in ‘heat’ for months on end and brings bucks from surrounding areas because of the mating chemicals released, actually making the overpopulation worse. The Ohio state government funneled over $500,000 into contraceptive research for the deer population in 2006 and was ultimately determined a failure because of the extremely low possibility of contraceptives success. A town in N.Y. hired researchers to perform sterilization surgeries on their deer population in 2014. The researchers were so unsuccessful that in the week they were there, despite plans to treat 60 deer, only one was treated. A study conducted on a small urban island in British Columbia from 1993 – 2005 showed that even with the overwhelming majority of deer treated the population still grew by 11% a year.
All-in-all, the lethal option, mixed with the other city administration recommendations that effectively address long-term concerns, is far superior to birth control. Why then, does HSUS kid themselves with the idea of “birth control for deer?” What deludes a person into throwing away scientific studies, lifetimes of evidence, and common sense?
Manipulative people saw and took opportunities all around America to prey on the raw emotion of others. HSUS is raking in the big bucks with their ideas of birth control conquest over hunting and culling, despite their plans making absolutely no sense. They fight practicality and obviously better plans because in doing so they are fattening their own pockets.
With the continued support of these programs all over America, despite their utter failures, HSUS and other animal rights activists will only make the situation worse. Contraception for deer is a waste of time and money, and allows for the continuation of the threats deer overpopulation bring to the table.
Do you think that HSUS should drop this crazy scheme, or be allowed to continue wasting time and money with no actual benefit being provided?