Virginia's First Deer Sterilization Effort Underway in Fairfax City

Spaying program expected to help reduce deer population.

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)
Fairfax City is expected to complete it's deer sterilization program this weekend — a first of its kind in Virginia.

Last month, the Virginia Department of Gaming and Inland Fisheries approved the deer spaying program.

Contractor Anthony DiNicola with White Buffalo explained the process to city leaders in December.

Female deer found in public spaces are shot with a tranquilizer and a tracking chip. The deer is taken to the city police station, where the surgery is performed. The does tend to recover quickly and are released back into the area where they were found.

The tags will remain on the deer so that the city can monitor the program's progress and recognize migration patterns of the animals.

What do you think of the city's deer sterilization effort? Tell us in the comments!

The Washington Post's Tom Jackman tagged along over the weekend and filed a report on the deer sterilization effort, including this interesting fact:

"One thing DeNicola found interesting: None of the 11 does he’s caught so far were older than 6 1/2 years old. That may mean they are dying younger in Fairfax City for unknown reasons, since there’s no hunting in the city and they’ve only had about 20 reported car-deer fatalities since 2006, Sgt. Michael Duncan said."

Read more of Jackman's account and see photos.

Bob Sarratt February 04, 2014 at 07:39 PM
Deer sterilization programs are a waste of taxpayer’s money! The article said that female deer found in public places …. are sterilized and released back in the area where they were found. Deer caught in public places should be butchered and the meat used for animal shelters or food banks. Why would you release a deer caught in a public place back into a public place? Deer do not belong in public places. This sort of program is a “money pit,” that only benefits contractors such as White Buffalo, and should never be created or funded. Removal of deer in public places should be handled by Animal Control Officers with the deer going to a processor such as the ones in www.h4hungry.org.
Michael Z February 05, 2014 at 07:08 AM
I agree with Mr. Sarratt 100%. It's a complete waste of taxpayers money. The best way to handle deer overpopulation is organized bowhunting. There are groups that have experience with "city" type hunting, Suburban Whitetail Management comes to mind, there are various others none of which cost tax payers anything.
Denise Mayhew February 05, 2014 at 07:17 AM
I think sterilization is more humane than killing, however, why not sterilize the males as well.
Rolling Thunder 2013 February 05, 2014 at 09:56 AM
@Denise. I suggest you learn something about deer before commenting.
Rolling Thunder 2013 February 05, 2014 at 09:59 AM
They've sterilized 11 doe so far. There are more than that in the park across the street from my house. This whole effort is a waste of time.
Luddites Needed February 05, 2014 at 10:46 AM
This is being done in Fairfax City where hunting is not allowed. Have advocates thought about how this would work on a larger scale and how it will need to compete with other budget priorities? A recent PBS Nature documentary put the whitetail population at 30 million in the US. Despite a growing student population, the Fairfax County public schools superintendent recently recommended cutting more than 450 teacher positions and $70 million from the FY 2015 budget. It doesn't make any sense to spend $1000 each on doe spaying when our children are spending their school days in temporary(???) trailers instead of real classrooms.
Rich (That's my name, not my status) February 05, 2014 at 11:00 AM
What? A waste of tax $$$? How can you say that? It's only just over a $1000.00 let me repeat that, ONLY OVER a T-H-O-U-S-A-N-D dollars!!!! PER amimal to sterialize the does. The poor and needy don't need that money, do they? The proper answer is can you spell v.e.n.i.s.o.n?
Lisa Walthers February 05, 2014 at 11:08 AM
Tax payer money was not used for this program as it was privately funded. If you believe more money should be used in schools or for the poor, you should fundraise for programs to help them. In the meantime, animal welfare advocates used their own money for a non-lethal method to control the deer population in the City of Fairfax. Denise's question is not a bad one and should not be made to feel bad for asking it. The males are not neutered because if you miss just one, the male could still impregnate numerous does. This is why the focus and expense are placed on the does.
Michael Z February 05, 2014 at 03:32 PM
As said before you need to learn about deer. You will never find all the "local" deer when does come into estrus buck travel miles and miles expanding their natural range. Does habits and home range can change as well. I have been studying deer specifically Whitetail deer for 30 years. $1000.00 per animal is a huge waste of money. Like someone said before if you can capture that deer to sterilize it then take it out of the herd at that time. When you start screwing with Mother Nature your going to have problems. The deer that have been sterilized can still cause car accidents, which is a risk to human life and health. They can still eat up all your plants etc. So tell me what did you prevent? The 4-6 births per deer thru out its lifetime? And that's if it lives a long time like 8 years. Guess what your never going to get them all. Deer have proven to adapt to their environment. Yes numbers could go down for like one season but deer from other areas will move in.
Rolling Thunder 2013 February 05, 2014 at 07:12 PM
I'm amazed at how many people seem to have gained their knowledge of wildlife by watching Disney cartoons.
Patricia Cake February 05, 2014 at 09:58 PM
The deer management project was totally funded by private donors. I am proud to say I contributed to this very worthy research project and it has exceeded our objectives. It's a shame people have to express such negative thoughts when new ideas are tested. I wonder how many of those who feel the deer should be killed to feed the poor actually contribute to food banks on a regular basis. If you want to help feed the poor go for it but don't take the life of an innocent deer to do so.
Rolling Thunder 2013 February 06, 2014 at 08:34 AM
@Patricia. Are you in denial that Fairfax City is going to incur costs associated with this program in the form of police and administrative costs? I highly recommend you familiarize yourself with deer/wildlife management before jumping on the warm and fuzzy bandwagon. . http://www.alibris.com/booksearch.detail?invid=12022725661?cm_mmc=shopcompare-_-paid-_-Google-_-books&ci_src=17588969&ci_sku=9780811704861
Gina February 06, 2014 at 09:25 AM
Fairfax City Mayor and Council are to commended for taking a proactive approach ensuring that they can appropriately manage wildlife. Research results in progress - many would prefer to stay in the past - the City is leading the way for the entire Commonwealth. Progressive, private citizens paid for the research - NO TAXPAYER DOLLARS WENT TO THE PROJECT. Police Officers accompanied the team - no different than when cities host events or patrol at schools. It was for the safety of citizens that they were involved. Please visit the websites of your local jurisdictions and see where the money really is spent - you'd be amazed! For those who feel that the killing of deer is appropriate to feed the hungry - I invite all to donate to the poor from your paycheck and spend your weekends at homeless shelters. That would go further in helping the poor and homeless.
Rolling Thunder 2013 February 06, 2014 at 10:17 AM
Venison Steak Diane http://honest-food.net/2011/08/11/venison-steak-diane/
Laura Mann February 10, 2014 at 05:08 PM
The County and all concerned who are working to implement the deer sterilization program should be highly commended. By rampant real estate development we have taken away the deer's natural habitat. The very least we can do is to allow them to live and know that God will take care of them -- aided by such caring acts as our County officials have taken. -- p.s. Most people find deer meat "gamey" because it is wild meat, -- therefore unpalatable. No solutions there.
Rolling Thunder 2013 February 10, 2014 at 05:15 PM
@Laura. You've been watching too many Disney cartoons. "Most people find deer meat "gamey" because it is wild meat, -- therefore unpalatable. No solutions there. " Not the case. I've been hunting for over 40 years and have no problem when I invite guests over for dinner. Re my link to Venison Steak Diane. Have you ever tried venison prepared by someone who knows what they're doing or are you just making this up?
Luddites Needed February 11, 2014 at 05:59 PM
@Gina makes my point when she writes " the City is leading the way for the entire Commonwealth. Progressive, private citizens paid for the research - NO TAXPAYER DOLLARS WENT TO THE PROJECT." That's how many government programs get started - especially from progressive minded advocates. Of course private citizens are free to pay for privately funded programs they deem will help. I just wish they would look at all the costs. But what happens when their hobby gets applied to Fairfax County or the entire Commonwealth. At $1,000 per deer or $500 or $250 there just aren't enough private funds so they will try and siphon away public funds. Good luck with that if you start doing cost benefit analysis. And thanks for your additional stereotype. Many hunters volunteer and pay for charitable activities in addition to donating venison to food shelters that will accept it. We just don't request expensive wine, cheese, and wind instruments that increase administrative costs. -@Laura: Another stereotype. Venison tastes gamey when a) you shoot a deer that has been running (one reason I don't like to shoot stirred up bucks during the rut - sweaty animals cause increased enzymatic activity which affects the meat) and B) they don't know how to prepare the meat. I've served venison to picky eaters that thought they were eating beef tenderloin because I know how to marinade, cook and serve it properly. Instead of repeating misinformation, you both should look at multiple solutions that will work on a large scale to deal with the loss of human life and native species, car damage, and lyme disease caused by the overpopulation of deer.
Rolling Thunder 2013 February 12, 2014 at 02:11 PM
" the City is leading the way for the entire Commonwealth" Propose something like this in counties where the populations are actually familiar with deer and it would be a laughingstock. Bath or Rockingham counties? Yeah right....
Michael Z February 28, 2014 at 09:55 AM
You people understand why this all started right? "Deer over population" playing God and trying to scientifically control nature has proven not to work. It has been done and always failed. If you haven't learned anything yet, being more progressive isn't always good either. Sounds like some of you are the sheeple that are damaging our country in support of the communist dictator that is running the USA into the ground! I laughed when I read venison. Isn't palatable and is gamey. Uh no that's not true at all. I would lay $100.00 down to say you couldn't tell the difference in venison or beef when prepared correctly. Also wild game is much better for you and healthier than anything you buy in the store. It's pure organic, not chemicaly enhanced or pumped full of steroids. Just all natural lean meat the way God intended. I would much rather eat deer, wild turkey or wild hog that I've harvested and processed over anything from a dirty old store any day! You ever walked in a meat room at the local grocerie store? If you have you'll know what I'm talking about. Anyway the only time tested proven reliable 100% successful way to solve the deer problem is hunting period. In city limits you say. Then bow hunting is your answer. Talk to biologist from Fort Belvoir, AP Hill, Quantico you will see. They could have saved you some money. Heck people will pay the city to fix the problem. Tree huggin Vegan PETA folks runnin amok in Fairfax.
Rolling Thunder 2013 March 01, 2014 at 10:05 AM
Well said Michael Z. Unfortunately we are dealing with people whose minds are already made up from watching too many cartoons and not enough time in the woods.


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