Heal Our Planet Earth
CARE Tour - 5

Compassion for Animals Road Expeditions #5
Can birth control curb urban deer population?

(Published Monday, August 13, 2007 11:32:58 AM CST)

Janesville Gazette, WI

By Gina Duwe [email protected]

BELOIT-People should push local governments to explore using birth control for whitetail deer in Wisconsin to control the urban population without killing, an international wildlife preservationist said Sunday.

Three methods of killing urban deer-sharp shooting, bow hunting and netting-are inhumane and ineffective, Anthony Marr said. He spoke to nearly 20 people at a seminar sponsored by the Wisconsin Animal Education Network at Leeson Park in Beloit.

Marr said his main point isn't to attack hunters who kill deer in the wild but to advocate for nonviolent ways that humans and deer can coexist using the latest non-lethal technology.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, which attempts to manage the population through hunting, has not advocated that approach, said Jason Fleener, assistant big game specialist with the DNR.

"As far as non-violent means, we always advocate not baiting and feeding, though it is legal in some areas. That has led to increased deer collisions on the road (and other) human conflicts," he said.

The estimated pre-hunt deer population in Wisconsin is between 1.6 million and 1.8 million, up about 100,000 from last year, he said.

Marr proposes that technology be used to vaccinate does with a contraceptive that would be 100 percent effective in urban deer for three years and 80 percent effective by the fifth year.

The Environmental Protection Agency is studying the concept and could certify the two major methods as early as next year, Marr said.

"If the citizens in a certain community want to use non-lethal methods, now is the time for them to propose it to their government," he said.

Marr outlined his invention, which he has yet to try. His system would fence an area and funnel deer into one-way gates where deer could be injected, tagged and set free.

"I would tend (to think) that would be a very low-stress technique, very low demand on human labor," he said. "I think all this technology is quite ready for implementation and general certification."

Other non-lethal ways to reduce human-deer conflicts, Marr said, include:

-- Repellants. Using sounds, smells, tastes or other items that deer do not like.

-- Deterrence. Fences are probably the most effective means of controlling deer vehicle accidents. At least an 8-foot fence on both sides of a road in a highly populated area can reduce deer-vehicle accidents by 95 percent, Marr said.

-- Relocation. Examples show relocating deer can work, he said, even though opponents say it just moves a problem from one place to another.

The DNR points to earn-a-buck units to help lessen the population, Fleener said. This fall's hunting season in Wisconsin will include more than last year, he said. Hunters in chronic wasting disease units, which include parts of Rock and Walworth counties, now will have to shoot a doe before a buck, he said.

One hunter who attended the seminar said he agreed with some of Marr's ideas, but he questioned some of the logistics. Justin Feidler of Beloit said he does not believe in trophy hunting and only kills deer for food.

He pointed out that deer stuck in fences can be more sickening than those struck by cars. Bow hunting also requires training that many hunters don't do year-round, which leads to many wounded animals, he said.

"If the birth control for the deer, if it works, that's great," he said.

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