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.
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