Communities throughout New York facing decisions about managing the deer population are watching two developments that could serve as model-setting precedents in addressing the issue. Capital Region Bureau Chief Dave Lucas reports.
With deer populations on an uptick throughout the Catskills and New York City Watershed, the Westchester county village of Hastings-on-Hudson is planning a unique approach: They intend to dart female deer with a contraceptive that can keep the animals from reproducing for up to three years. Hastings Mayor Peter Swiderski says that if they get the green light, village officials and resident volunteers will gather preliminary research for the birth control project in early 2013. Darting could begin in 2014.
A New York State Department of Environmental Conservation spokeswoman tells WAMC via email that Hastings on Hudson has not submitted an application to DEC for such an activity at this time.
In Ulster County, the planned January deer kill at Vassar College's 500-acre farm and preserve is temporarily on hold after activists filed a lawsuit to try to prevent sharpshooters from picking the animals off in an organized cull.
Marcy Schwartz is an attorney who lives close to Vassar and has been active with the group Save Our Deer - she says there is no such thing as "deer overpopulation" in Poughkeepsie.
Vassar officials say they are hopeful a December 18th hearing will resolve the issue: a spokesman confirmed the DEC will not permit Vassar to use contraception for deer management as an alternative. The DEC explains it will only permit the use of immuno-contraceptives as part of a research project, which Vassar, according to the agency, "does not have the expertise or facilities to pursue" ...
The DEC is reviewing both Vassar's deer cull permit and the lawsuit.