Ineffective Deer Sterilization Programs Cost Taxpayers Millions

Ineffective Deer Sterilization Programs Cost Taxpayers Millions

Apparently, sterilizing wild deer can be an extremely good-paying job—with taxpayers footing some extremely large bills. According to the Staten Island Advocate, a deer sterilization program currently being run in Staten Island, N.Y., had an operating budget of $4.1 million.

However, the article revealed that “a detailed cost breakdown of the three-year program obtained by the Advance through a Freedom of Information Law request shows that just 7.6 percent of [that]…went toward supplies to sterilize the borough's bucks and bait to lure them. The remaining $3.7 million of that contract was used to pay senior scientists, wildlife biologists and technicians, and veterinarians charged with capturing and sterilizing the deer.”

Many of the people working on the sterilization program earned six-figure incomes for less than six months’ worth of work.

“In the first year of the program,” the Advocate reported, “one senior scientist charged with ‘capture and sterilization’ earned $375,000 for just 150 days of work. Another senior scientist who documents list as doing ‘site visit, project design and set up, administrative, permitting’ earned $58,650 for 30 days of work. Two other wildlife biologists, also tasked with capturing and sterilizing deer, together earned $558,000 for 150 days of work.”

The New York Post discovered much the same in its investigation of the Staten Island sterilization program. “Dr. Anthony DeNicola, founder of the nonprofit White Buffalo Inc., was paid up to $2,500 a day for 250 days of project management and field sterilization work during the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 seasons, according to city budget documents reviewed by The Post.”

Meantime, Dr. DeNicola’s wife took in “$1,600 a day for 150 days of work—a total of $240,000…Together, the DeNicolas’ bloated salaries gobbled up to 29 percent of the project’s first-year expenses.” White Buffalo also brought in a veterinarian from Wisconsin to train the other vets in deer sterilization techniques, paying him $26,250 in total—or $1,750 a day.

“Since then, the project’s vets have been earning between $1,050 and $1,700 daily,” the Post added. “So far the city has given 1,456 randy bucks the snip at a cost of $2,652.95 per animal under the terms of White Buffalo’s no-bid emergency contract.”

Often thanks to the agitation by and insistence of animal rights extremists and anti-hunters, a number of American communities have tried or are trying deer sterilization as a way to curb problem deer herds. Ann Arbor, Mich., was the site of one such sterilization program—until the Michigan Legislature and then-governor Rick Snyder took a more common-sense stance on the issue.

In December, both the Michigan House of Representatives and State Senate passed a bill prohibiting communities from adopting deer sterilization programs. The bill was later signed into law by Snyder.  

“The bill,” the Detroit Free Press noted, “targets the City of Ann Arbor, the only city in the state that has been using a sterilization program to help manage its deer herd… For the last two years, Ann Arbor has been using a two-pronged approach: using sharp shooters [sic] to kill the herds in open areas of the city and capturing and sterilizing does in densely populated neighborhoods.”

In 2017 alone, the city sterilized 54 deer and hired sharpshooters to kill 100 more. In 2018, Ann Arbor set aside $370,000 for the two programs.

“Why do we need deer sterilization in the first place when we have sportsmen who are fully capable of managing our deer species?” said Rep. Triston Cole, R-Mancelona, who sponsored the legislation when the bill was up for consideration. “This is a wonderful opportunity for urban residents to learn about quality deer management and the benefits of hunting to the entire state.”

As has reported in the past, suburban and, yes, even urban deer archery-only hunts can be extremely effective means of controlling deer populations. And much of the funding for these hunts is covered by the hunters themselves through permit and application fees.

Maybe it’s time residents in urban and suburban areas faced with burgeoning deer numbers look to hunters to save them hard-earned tax dollars. Unless, of course, these same residents are happy with paying up $1,000 or more per day, per person, for programs that have yet to be proven effective.

About the Author:
Brian McCombie is a field editor and editorial contributor for the NRA's American Hunter. He writes about firearms and gear for the NRA's Shooting Illustrated website, as well as handling public relations and marketing for companies and manufacturers in the shooting sports industry. He is a member of the National Rifle Association and the National Shooting Sports Foundation. Brian likes hunting hogs, shooting 1911s chambered in 10 mm and .45 ACP, watching the Chicago Bears and relaxing with Squinchy, the orange tabby cat.

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