EAST HAMPTON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Donations have exceeded expectations in an unusual fundraiser on Long Island, in which a group is raising money to capture and sterilize deer and then set them free.
As CBS 2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported, the tourist population is swelling on the East End of Long Island. But the deer population is what really has the residents fed up.READ MORE: President Joe Biden Visits New Jersey To Push Infrastructure Plan, Including Portal Bridge Construction
“They are a menace on the roads, of course,” one woman said.
“They’re eating my plants; flowers,” said another resident, Andree Dean.
But the question of how to stem the deer population boom has been divisive. A cull earlier this year failed amid protests and lawsuits.
Only 192 deer were killed by sharpshooters in the cull, barely denting the 35,000-strong deer herd.
Now in East Hampton Village, there is a new game plan.
“We’re hoping that a number of deer — does — will be sterilized,” said East Hampton Village Mayor Paul F. Rickenbach Jr.
The village has voted to spay the female deer and return them to the wild.
It will be a first for Long Island. A not-for-profit called White Buffalo will tranquilize the deer with dart guns, and transport them to veterinarians where their ovaries will be removed.
The procedure will cost $1,000 per deer. But many seem to have decided it is worth it.
“The donations came pouring in,” said Kathleen Cunningham, executive director of the Village Preservation Society of East Hampton. “People were very eager to be part of something positive that seemed humane.”
More than $110,000 has been raised by the Village Preservation Society in two months. Resident Joan Osborne helped raise the money, and said her property is overrun with deer.READ MORE: NYPD Officers Testify As Judicial Inquiry Into 2014 Death Of Eric Garner Gets Underway
“People have been just needing something to be done about this situation,” Osborne said.
Many said they see sterilization as a middle ground.
“Otherwise, they’re going to have to be shot dead,” Dean said.
Spayed does will be tagged, but critics pointed out there is nothing to keep hunters from targeting them, or to keep deer from wandering into the village and repopulating the herd.
Organizers said the animals are territorial and tend to stay put. Their goal is to spay 100 percent of the females in East Hampton.
The Animal Rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals applauded East Hampton for taking a non-lethal approach, but expressed reservations.
“Trapping and sterilizing wild deer is not without risks for these sensitive prey animals, and as with culling, nature could outsmart us. Tried-and-true deer management methods include habitat modification, humane exclusion, and repellents,” said the statement to CBS 2 from PETA wildlife biologist Jodi Minion. “However, given that wildlife habitats have been razed in the name of development, it’s only right for others to follow the lead of communities such as East Hampton, which have opted not to kill these animals, who are simply trying to survive and feed their own families. We applaud East Hampton for taking a nonlethal approach.”
As WCBS 880’s Sean Adams reported, around 200 people are killed nationwide in accidents involving animal strikes.
AAA advises to not swerve, but to hit the deer; the injuries could be worse if you swerve, they say.