State Gives Green Light, Fairfax City's Deer Sterilization Set to Begin

The City announced dates when the program will begin, very soon.

The City of Fairfax announced dates for its deer sterilization program, now that it has received permission from the state. (Photo: Lance Cheung/USDA)
The City of Fairfax announced dates for its deer sterilization program, now that it has received permission from the state. (Photo: Lance Cheung/USDA)
Now that it has received approval from the Virginia Department of Gaming and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF), the City of Fairfax is set to begin the sterilization of its female deer in just one week.

According to a statement issued by the City, representatives from the City and White Buffalo Inc. plan to conduct the sterilization and tagging process beginning next Friday, Jan. 31, and should have it complete by Feb. 6.

The City said all will be conducted during nighttime hours.

"The City of Fairfax is making preparations to begin its participation in a research program to manage the resident deer population within the city through the humane sterilization of female deer," the statement from officials read.

READ: City Council Votes to Move Forward With Deer Sterilization Program

Anthony DiNicola of the company White Buffalo Inc., will lead the process with his employees. According to City officials, City of Fairfax police officers will be accompanying the White Buffalo employees as they move within the city to capture the deer.

As DiNicola explained during a work session with the Mayor and City Council last month, the White Buffalo crew will drive through the city and shoot all female deer with darts that contain both a drug to disorient them as well as a tranquilizer, plus a tracking chip in case they flee. The crew will then capture the deer once they pass out.

He said the crew then transports the deer to a central location—in this case, the City of Fairfax police station—to perform the surgery, which consists of an ovariectomy. Post-surgery, the deer are released back into the area they came from.

The surgeries will all be conducted by licensed veterinary technicians. DiNicola said the does typically recover very quickly, and most are up and feeding again by the very next day. He added, the drugs used have no lasting effects on the deer.

On capture nights, deer will be sought in public, open spaces, officials explained in the City statement.

"The tranquilizing darts will not be used if there are any occupied dwellings or vehicles in the background, or any persons in proximity to the deer," officials assured. "If a deer makes its way onto private property after receiving the dart, permission of the resident or owner will be sought in order to make recovery of the animal."

Officials added, "The contractor for this program, White Buffalo, Inc., has conducted similar deer sterilization programs which have been successful in curtailing the deer population in several other communities without injury to the animals involved."

As DiNicola explained to the Mayor and City Council last month, the tags that will remain on the deer will help the City track the success of the program, as well as migration patterns. Once the program is complete, the City can expect to see a reduction in the local deer population by around 15 percent annually.

Mayor Scott Silverthorne said if the program is not successful, the City will not continue it.

DiNicola said White Buffalo secured the non-governmental research grant that will cover the costs of the program, meaning there is no cost to Fairfax City taxpayers.

Fairfax City residents and neighbors had many comments over their thoughts on the program when it was announced that the City was seeking approval from the state to begin, both in favor and against. Read some of those comments here.


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B N January 26, 2014 at 12:58 PM
Too bad the city is not selling tickets for a "ride along". I would be willing to purchase a ticket just to have an opportunity to see this firsthand. This venture would make a great Simpsons episode!


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