The Comptroller for Staten Island, New York, Scott Stringer is seeking to hasten the process to contract specialists to conduct vasectomies on wild deer that roam in the area. The contracts are expected to cost at least $2 million in taxpayer dollars. In May, Stringer’s office approved a request by the Parks Department to initiate a three-year study of deer sterilization as an emergency procurement. Staten Island’s charter allows emergency contracts in cases of perceived threats to life, safety, or property.
New York City’s budget is currently $82 billion.
 
Sterilizations are expected to commence this September. "We are pleased that this is moving forward in a timely manner, and that Staten Islanders will see the initial implementation of this smart, effective plan later this year," City Hall spokeswoman Natalie Grybauskas said.
 
Staten Island deer
 
City officials are concerns that an excessive number of deer may harm parklands and private property and spread tick-borne diseases such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Babesiosis, Anaplasmosis, and Ehrlichiosis. Deer-related vehicle collisions are also a concern.
 
In 2014, an aerial survey found 763 deer in Staten Island's green spaces. However, there may be more than 1,000 there now. , though some ecologists believe there may be more than 1,000 here now. The city surveyed the entire borough earlier this year and sterilizations are expected to begin in September.
 
Sterilization may begin even before the review and approval of the chosen contractor: White Buffalo Inc. – a wildlife conservation nonprofit. All male deer in the borough will be sterilized during the fall rut, which in other parts of the United States is prime hunting season. Hundreds of Bucks would be tranquilized and given vasectomies and then released in Staten Island parkland during the three-year study.
 
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has agreed that effective castration of bucks is fast and humane and will seriously limit population growth of deer.
 
Wildlife experts are doubtful that the plan will work. There is a possibility, for instance, that sterilizing bucks may make does into heat more than once per year and thus create a mating chaos. New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation must approve the plan. The department does not recommend fertility control to limit deer populations because of their "limited effectiveness" and "inability to quickly reduce deer-human conflicts."
 
In Ann Arbor, Michigan – home to the prestigious and liberal University of Michigan – a deer cull via use of firearms was approved last year. Michigan Department of Natural Resources experts say the Staten Island project is "short-sighted." While hunting is illegal in New York City, the euthanasia of deer is not. However, city officials believe that euthanizing deer would be more expensive than sterilization. Two lawsuits are holding up future culls in Ann Arbor. Lethal control is being considered by New York City only as a last resort out of concern for law suits. Despite controversy in the city that was once called “The Berkley of the Midwest,” no safety incidents were reported as of March 1 of this year. Officials reported that 63 deer were felled by authorized marksmen in Ann Arbor’s extensive park system. The Ann Arbor City Council voted 10-1 last year in favor of the cull. The authorized hunt yielded 1,000 of venison for local charities.
 
Animal rights activists in Ann Arbor remained opposed. Members of the activist group Friends of Ann Arbor Wildlife in Nature (FAAWN) held a demonstration against the cull in March and carried signs reading "Stop the Shoot." The group claims to have seen joggers, dog walkers, sledders, and others entering and exiting parks at times when the parks were closed for shooting. One of the two lawsuits seeking to end the hunt claims that, under Michigan law, all animals in the state are legally considered the property of the people of Michigan. "The city's deer cull is impairing and destroying the natural resources of this state and will continue to do so unless enjoined by this court," the complaint alleges. The lawsuit reiterated Michigan’s rules for deer hunting, including dates of the open firearm season and established hunting hours. It noted that the deer cull fell outside of those times and dates.
 
Roadkill near Ann Arbor, Michigan
 
Animal rights activists have weighed in on the issue in New York, too. A group that sought to eliminate horse carriages in New York City, who initially had De Blasio’s support, claim that having deer that shoot blanks is better than having hunters shoot deer in the Big Apple, arguing that sterilization is "smart, effective, and humane." 

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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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