NJ town council told immunocontraception not answer to deer


Mar 11, 2001
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Watchung deer population debate goes on

By VINCENT PATERNO, Echoes-Sentinel/Recorder Newspapers (NJ)

September 12, 2001

Prof: No guarantee for immunocontraception.

WATCHUNG The emotion-tinged debate over how to confront the borough's burgeoning deer population took a new turn Saturday, Sept. 8, when a Rutgers University professor said a birth control method did not have 100 percent certainty of controlling the herd.

''Be careful of snake-oil salesmen,'' Lawrence Katz, a scientist at Rutgers' Coo k College, told about 80 people at Borough Hall. While Katz refused to endorse any particular method, he did say immunocontraception could cost up to $1,000 per deer each year. Moreover, he added, a decline in the birth rate may not occur f or several years.

Katz said there were sufficient natural resources in the borough for deer ''to survive and reproduce at maximum output,'' though he noted deer only have an opportunity to reproduce once annually.

''I don't blame the deer for anything,'' he said. ''They are responding to an environment we modified.''

56 Killed In 2000

According to Borough Councilman Thomas Franklin, who along with Mayor Anthony Addario brought Katz in for the special Saturday morning meeting, 56 deer were killed by cars in the borough in 1999, the most recent year numbers were available.

Watchung is not alone in its deer plight. Many communities throughout the state are having similar problems with overpopulation of the herd, and have tried a variety of potential solutions. The most controversial has been hunting deer in order to decrease their population.

The meeting, Addario said afterwards, was about what he expected ''very emotion al.''

Many attending decried the hunting option and told Katz so, noting he admitted receiving research funds from the state Division of Fish and Wildlife. Katz denied any bias, noting the funding he receives are to study deer's reproductive biology.

'Need To Do Something'

Fran Ellis of Valley Road said she had plenty of problems with deer in recent years. ''They eat anything,'' she said, ''as high as they can reach.'' Several of her bushes have fallen prey to deer hunger, she added.

''I think we need to do something,'' Ellis said.

Lynn Franklin, wife of the councilman, said she was ''firmly in favor of not hurting the deer'' in order to reduce the herd.

''I found it to be very informative,'' she said of the meeting, though she noted deer overpopulation was probably more of ''a regional question,'' beyond the scope of any single municipality.

Deer A Problem

Despite their limited reproducing period, deer are extremely prolific. Studies have shown a herd can double in size in one year. Their overabundance can lead to frequent collisions with cars and damage to crops, nursery stock and forests.

Several options available, in addition to hunting, are trapping and transferring deer to other locations, which studies have shown to be expensive and relatively cost-ineffective; the use of fencing and repellents; and fertility control agents.


Well-known member
Mar 15, 2001
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may the anti-hunters all have the oppertunity to hit a deer.

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