By Michael Valkys, Poughkeepsie Journal on Rense.com
effort to reduce the deer population near its main Town of Poughkeepsie
campus began Thursday night and will resume next week.
Vassar spokesman Jeff Kosmacher said 44 animals were killed Thursday by
professional sharpshooters. He declined to say precisely when next week the
cull will resume.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation issued a permit
allowing Vassar to use hired sharpshooters to kill up to 50 deer. That's
fewer than the 85 deer college officials think need to be removed from the
approximately 500-acre Vassar Farm and Ecological Preserve off Hooker
An estimated 100 deer live on the preserve, a portion of which is in the
City of Poughkeepsie. DEC officials have said Vassar can reapply to take
more deer once the 50-animal limit is reached.
Kosmacher said the 44 deer taken Thursday "was certainly more than we
would have imagined" for the first night of the cull. He said no problems
Town Police Chief Thomas Mauro said the department received two calls
from preserve neighbors about gunshots in the area. He said officers
informed them the cull was taking place.
The college hopes to complete the cull before students return from break
College officials have said the deer population must be reduced to
protect the preserve. They said deer have decimated the preserve's forest
understory during the past decade, making it difficult for new trees to
Officials also have cited car-deer collisions and the potential spread of
tick-borne diseases, such as Lyme disease, as reasons the cull is needed.
Residential properties also can be damaged by deer.
Cull opponents claim other deer management methods could have been used.
A handful of protesters voiced opposition to the cull Friday afternoon
outside Vassar Farm.
Also, some residents have criticized Vassar for not informing them about
its deer management plans earlier. Many neighbors first learned of the plan
last month when they received letters from the college.
Vassar officials have defended their community outreach, noting the
hundreds of letters sent to neighbors.
College officials also met with town and city leaders to update them on
plans for the cull.
Venison from the cull will be donated to local food banks. Connecticut-based White Buffalo Inc. is performing the cull for an estimated $10,000.