Village Takes Action Against Growing Deer Population

By Matt Porter

January 18, 2013 Updated Jan 21, 2013 at 2:59 PM EDT

Cayuga Heights, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Cayuga Heights in Tompkins County sterilized 137 does, or nearly 90 percent of their population, to reduce their overall number -- and nuisance.

For Jane Lee and her dogs, Penny and Finn, dealing with deer is a daily occurrence.

"We see them in the trees back here in our neighbors lawn, just kind of bedding down," Lee said. "Especially in the spring, we'll see a lot of fawns around here. They're often twins."

She's seen as many as 20 deer in her backyard at one time.

Being a gardener, it upsets her when they jump her six-foot fence for her veggies.

"When they start eating money that I've planted," she said. "Then I get frustrated."

That's why the Village of Cayuga Heights sterilized 137 does this December.

Cayuga Heights Mayor Kate Supron said car accidents involving deer and risks of Lyme disease made it a priority.

"Overall, I think it went remarkably smoothly," Supron said. "It went very efficiently, we had no complaints from village residents."

Five deer did die during the sterilization process. Two died of fatal injuries incurred before trapping, two died due to trapping and one death is still undetermined.

But dozens more would have died if the village had to cull the herd.

"I think it's unfortunate the does died," Supron said. "But it wouldn't be something that would make me think, 'Oh gosh, we shouldn't sterilize them because we had a few that died.'"

The village hired private company White Buffalo Inc. to do the job.

Sterilization cost the village a little more than $140,000, or about $1,000 a doe.

Cornell University Wildlife Specialist Paul Curtis said sterilization is a humane way to deal with busting deer populations.

"Surgical sterilization is definitely an effective technique," Curtis said.

However, unlike other means, he said sterilization is a long term process.

"It's going to take potentially five years or more to see population level effects given deer are long-lived," Curtis said.

With more than 100 deer per square mile, Lee knows she'll always have deer knocking on her door.

"There's always going to be some level of deer, and I'm happy with that," she said. "But right now, it seems to be at a peak."