This week, New York City mayor Bill de Blasio announced an innovative and humane deer management program for the borough of Staten Island. It’s a humane response to the conflicts that some citizens on the island are having with more than 700 deer, and Mayor de Blasio’s plan provides a workable, non-lethal approach that can save the deer and steer the community away from any public safety problems associated with public hunting or sharpshooting.
Staten Island’s multifaceted approach will include sterilization, education, and the protection of natural resources, and is “smart, effective, and humane,” Mayor de Blasio said in a press release. “We’re confident this is the best plan to ensure the safety and happiness of Staten Islanders who have been affected by the growing deer population,” he added. The city hopes to reduce deer vehicle collisions, vegetation and habitat loss, and personal property damage. The public education component of the plan will include outreach on topics, including public health issues such as tick-borne disease transmission. The deer population itself will be addressed with surgical intervention, by giving vasectomies to males in the herd.
Last year, as part of my research for my book, The Humane Economy, I traveled around the United States – from the Village of Hastings-on-Hudson in New York to remote federal lands in northwest Colorado — to observe how HSUS biologists and field researchers are collaborating with scientists, federal agencies, local municipalities, and other NGOs to revolutionize the way we manage wildlife.
The fertility control program in Hastings-on-Hudson focused on deer, while the Colorado program targeted wild horses. In both cases, we worked with our partners to put fertility control programs to work to stabilize and reduce wildlife populations over time without the need for cruel, ineffective, and unsustainable culls. Several communities across the United States, including California, Maryland, Ohio, South Carolina, and Virginia, are exploring the use of such non-lethal programs to manage deer populations.
The HSUS has really pushed for this kind of forward thinking, so we applaud Mayor de Blasio and New York City for this unprecedented program that, if successful, could become a model for other communities.