The White-Tailed Deer Problem in New Jersey
How Other States Handle an Out-of-Balance Deer Population
Out-of-balance deer populations, and the resulting negative health, economic, and agricultural issues they can cause, are not unique to New Jersey. Throughout the country, state and municipal governments have worked to identify difficult but necessary solutions to this problem.
On the central campus of Cornell University, an out-of-balance deer population pushed the community to the breaking point. Seeking a solution that satisfied everyone, Cornell chose to experiment with sterilization of the deer while allowing hunting on nearby land.
The study’s organizers ultimately concluded that fertilization was not a viable means of population control. A lethal solution, under controlled circumstances, was enacted and was successful.
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Ann Arbor, Michigan has seen an exponential growth in its white-tailed deer population. As a result, the city investigated all means of rebalancing the population, taking into consideration science-backed remedies as well as potential solutions that have not been proven as effective.
The eventual decision was made to perform a deer cull to thin out the population successfully. A controversy ensued, placing those who promote the rationale for lethal solutions in opposition to those who advocate alternate methods. A professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Michigan, stated that such measures were necessary to manage the deer population in check and protect the ecosystem.
Staten Island, NY
Staten Island had an overabundance of deer, and correlated the deer population to the spread of Lyme disease, frequent car accidents, and a negative impact on native vegetation and wildlife. A plan was approved to spend $2 million to sterilize male deer, or bucks, in the region. The goal was to sterilize about 40% of the herd, an estimated 400 bucks, over a several-year period. This amounts to about $5,000 per buck. Three years after announcing its plan, Staten Island has seen a decrease in the deer population, but has spent more than $4 million.
Provo also faced a deer overpopulation program. After trying for three years to control the population using both non-lethal and lethal means of reduction, the Provo City Council concluded that the professionals advocating for lethal solutions were correct, and voted not to pursue non-lethal methods.
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Human Health Effects
The New Jersey Farm Bureau, and the agricultural interests we represent, understand that people will have different ideas about the approach to this problem. But ultimately, we must identify immediate and viable solutions to mitigate the negative impact to agriculture, the environment, and human health caused by deer overpopulation.