Staten Island to Rely on Car Collisions, Starvation, and Old Age to Reduce Deer Herd

AJ Gall

If you’re reading this, you were likely shocked into clicking the link because of the absurdity the title suggests.  The thought of keeping a deer herd in check by smashing them with Prius’ or letting them die a slow death due to old age and starvation paints a pretty picture, doesn’t it? Welcome to Staten Island 2016 and thank you humanitarians!

If you’re unfamiliar with the current situation on one of New York’s finest Islands, here’s the short run down:

  1. Deer got onto Staten Island.
  2. Deer proliferated on the island due to no hunting and no predators.
  3. People loved seeing the deer in their suburbia setting.
  4. People started hitting deer with their cars.
  5. People started complaining about their plants and gardens being eaten by deer.
  6. People want less deer, but don’t want to kill the deer.
  7. Mayor de Blasio and citizens vote to fix the problem (pun intended) by sterilizing bucks rather than killing does.

There’s your quick rundown on what’s happening on the East Coast (and other places as a matter of fact – mostly in big suburbs). Sounds like a lot of common sense is being used in their decision, don’t you think?

Here’s the real kicker, it’s only going to cost the taxpayers $2 Million for the first 3 years, whether its successful or not.  Now maybe it’s because I’m from a small town in the Midwest, but $2 Million is a lot of dough to throw at an issue that could be solved for free and feed plenty of hungry people.  On top of that, this solution won’t work.

White-tailed buck crossing the road in busy traffic during the rut

Here’s what’s wrong with political deer management and why sterilizing bucks won’t solve the problem.

  1. Staten Island has an immediate deer problem, hence the cause for action. This is not a time to be planning for 3 years from now, Staten Island needs the deer herd reduced now. How is this going to reduce deer numbers immediately?  Oh, and guess what, it’s fawning season!  Hope they are happy with 20% more deer or potentially even higher amounts since predation of fawns is basically non-existent.
  2. Sterilizing bucks is a new approach in the world of sterilizing whitetails. Typically, it’s the doe’s cord that gets snipped, but since Staten Island is, well, an island…they believe snipping the bucks will effectively reduce the population because no deer will be coming or leaving.  Hmmm, I wonder how the deer got there in the first place?  Maybe, some redneck put a couple in his pickup truck, crossed the Verrazano bridge, and dropped them off in the Greenbelt and they multiplied… yeah, right.  Or maybe, deer continue to swim from the mainland as shown in the video below, and continue to go back and forth as a means to mate and limit the potential for inbreeding?  Bottom line is, you’ll never sterilize the entire male population and it only takes one buck to breed a number of does.  What’s the magic number of bucks to sterilize?
  3. If a doe doesn’t get bred during her first estrous cycle, she’ll cycle again, and again – providing several more chances for an un-sterile buck to do his thing.
  4. In relation to #3, does that don’t get bred will cycle every month, thus, prolonging the rut. Since deer are creatures driven by hormones, guess what this elongated rut will do? For one, it will put tremendous physical strains on the active herd, perhaps running them to death.  That’s a humane practice though, right?  Secondly, can you tell me when the most deer-car collisions occur?  By golly, it’s during the rut of course, so let’s prolong it! Sterilizing the bucks creates less opportunity for the does to be bred during their first estrous cycle.  Less opportunity for does to be bred means they will cycle over and over until they get bred. Does in estrous drive bucks wild and keep them up and moving.  SMASH! Congrats, you just killed a deer with your car, actually you broke its legs and the officer had to shoot it to “humanely” put it out of its misery, and because the meat was damaged by the vehicle, it won’t feed any of the hungry.
  5. Bucks on the island are like Pokémon and you gotta catch ‘em all! My apologies for that reference, but seriously, they will have to catch and sterilize the vast majority of bucks on the island to have any kind of impact on population levels.  Again, bucks will breed multiple does if given the opportunity.  Catching them is probably not a big deal though because mature bucks are really easy to draw within range of a dart gun… yeah, right… Some of the best hunters in the world sometimes don’t even lay eyes on a buck they had on trail camera for the entire season.  Oh, and how are they going to know when they did “catch ‘em all”?
  6. Since this vasectomy thing is a new concept, there’s no telling what kind of physiological tolls there will be on the wild population.  Deer are controlled by hormones, messing with these balances could do some funky things.  Will snipped bucks grow antlers, shed velvet, rut, or shed antlers? All these things are controlled by acute changes in testosterone levels, so what happens when humans mess with those levels?
  7. In the end, if deer are not harvested by hunters their only fate is to die of old age, starvation, predation, disease, or by vehicle collisions. The prevalence of Lyme’s Disease will undoubtedly rise, and dead, rotting carcasses will leave a “fresh” scent on the island.

Common sense and science tell us that does need to be taken out of the herd (a.k.a. killed) in order to sensibly control this situation.  Sorry if I offended you for using such a vulgar term for what needs to happen, but killing and death is part of life.  You’re a killer if you hit a deer with a car just as much as I’m a killer for launching an arrow through one’s vitals.  Only difference is mine comes home and ends up on the dinner plate.  Killing does in this situation would solve multiple problems simultaneously for a fraction of the cost, which is exactly why I don’t get it.

Killing does would:

  1. Reduce the deer herd immediately.
  2. Remove the reproductive animals, thus controlling future population numbers.
  3. Provide for a healthier herd overall – more food available, a regular rut, less car collisions, less disease, etc.
  4. Provide thousands of pounds of fresh and organic venison to the hungry.
  5. Cost the taxpayers substantially less money.

Of course, those outcomes make far too much sense to actually employ.  So for now, let’s just order all the bucks to take a vow of celibacy. Or better yet, since we all love wolves and coyotes, why don’t we transplant some wolves from Wisconsin to combat the problem naturally?

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About The Author
From Woods to Table

AJ Gall

AJ Gall's prior hunting and wildlife experiences began long ago and make him the perfect contributing deer hunting guru.  As a habitat consultant under Dr. Grant Woods, AJ has worked on properties in 13 different states, amassing over 25,000 acres of quality deer management. He now uses that knowledge to help clients find their dream hunting properties as a licensed real estate agent in Wisconsin.  


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