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City to Consider Deer Sterilization to Help Manage Overpopulation Problem

The City has the opportunity to participate in a grant-funded research program that involves surgical sterilization of female deer.

The City of Fairfax is considering participating in a grant-funded research project for surgically sterilizing female deer to deal with overpopulation. (File Photo)
The City of Fairfax is considering participating in a grant-funded research project for surgically sterilizing female deer to deal with overpopulation. (File Photo)
Editor's Note: We will update this article as soon as possible if we receive word this Council meeting is canceled due to weather.

After efforts to allow limited deer hunting on large tracts of land within Fairfax City failed to earn the necessary support among City Councilmembers over the summer, the City will consider a new method for dealing with deer overpopulation during a public work session Tuesday night.

The Council will be discussing the possibility of participating in an experimental, grant-funded research project to surgically sterilize female deer in order to effectively control what officials are calling a local deer overpopulation problem.

In July, City of Fairfax Police Chief Rick Rappoport brought with him wildlife biologist Vicky Monroe, who consults with Fairfax County on its deer management program, to give a thorough presentation to the Mayor and City Council that backs up the police department’s recommendation that something needs to be done to deal with the growing deer population in the area.

Monroe said an optimal number of deer to have in a suburban area such as Fairfax would be 15 to 20 deer per square mile—but that the local City and County areas currently have an estimated 40 to 100 deer per square mile.

She also said local deer appear to be living longer than the average deer's lifespan. On average, most deer live between 5 and 7 years—locally, they are living between 8 to 12 years.

“Why is that important? Because there is no such thing as ‘deer menopause.’ Deer can breed right up to the moment they take their last breath," Monroe said during the July City Council meeting.

City Councilmembers, however, ended up deadlocked over whether to allow controlled deer hunts through sharpshooting or archery on tracts of land of 25 acres or more, and therefore enacted an amendment that outlaws all deer hunting in Fairfax City recently.

The grant-funded deer sterilization project is the latest idea on how to deal with the City's deer population problem.

City Manager Bob Sisson said in a staff report, "The City has an opportunity to participate in a grant-funded research program exploring the use of surgical sterilization of female deer as an effective method of managing deer populations in suburban areas. The program would be conducted by Dr. Anthony DeNicola of White Buffalo, Inc. under a permit issued by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF)."

Essentially, the cost to the City will be minimal as the project is funded by a grant. The City staff report indicates the only contribution the City will need to make is that the police department will need to supply an officer to be a liaison to the program. 

The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. in the City Council Chambers at City Hall, 10455 Armstrong St. The public is welcome. Comment is allowed during public hearings, but not during work sessions.

What do you think of the proposed program? Tell us in the comments below.


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brandi2go December 10, 2013 at 08:19 AM
surely it would be easier and much more cost effective to sterilize the bucks
J. Griffin Crump December 11, 2013 at 03:46 PM
It would be interesting to know how Dr. DeNicola proposes to effect the surgical sterilization of the does and how long the program will take to reduce the deer population.
Janet W December 12, 2013 at 08:44 AM
You can check out their website http://www.whitebuffaloinc.org/index.html to get more information. In part, it says that sterilization is easier if the deer are approachable which probably explains doe rather than buck at this time of year. You can read up on deer biology to find out why at other times of the year castrating a buck is not so easy.
joe brewer December 13, 2013 at 07:02 AM
How about a grant for hunters to hunt free and donate the meat to the needy and homeless centers essentially kill two birds with one stone?
Ted Doroshenk December 18, 2013 at 08:26 AM
A feature article in Time Magazine regarding control of wild animals in urban and suburban areas addressed sterilization. Bottom line was it didn't work. Good luck, maybe this will be different?
joe brewer December 18, 2013 at 08:48 AM
With the stupid cuts to the SNAP program it would behoove us if you paid hunters $25 for a rifle shot or $35 for a bow shot deer and have the meat dispersed to the needy. A 70 pound dressed out kill would cost us 50 cents a pound for venison!
Dave Aronson December 19, 2013 at 10:59 AM
brandi2go, it might be *cheaper* per deer, but might not be as *effective*. I don't know what the chances are that any given doe will get pregnant per year, but assuming it's pretty high: If you sterilize the males, you have to get a very large percent, else the rest of the males will simply "fill in", so to speak. If you sterilize a female, you know for sure that doe isn't having any fawns, no matter how many potent bucks are around. Of course, it would be even cheaper (maybe even revenue-positive) to have them be hunted more, whether the meat is donated to the needy or not. I'm not familiar with the current hunting laws, but maybe the season could be lengthened, more doe tags could be issued, etc.

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