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Syracuse council to vote on deer cull, some residents speak out

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Tom Magnarelli
/
WRVO Public Media
The Syracuse Tick and Deer Management Advisory Group briefs Syracuse common councilors.

The Syracuse Common Council unanimously voted Monday to approve a management plan to control the deer and tick population that includes a cull, or killing of some deer using federal sharpshooters. Some Syracuse residents said they are opposed to culling.

Jan Markarian with the People for Animal Rights of Central New York and others are advocating for nonlethal methods to reduce the deer population like surgical sterilization and immunocontraception.

“Too often in this country, it’s this thinking that there is some kind of quick fix solution, or a magic bullet, or sometimes it’s violence, is this strategy to solve problems,” Markarian said.

Paul Curtis, a professor of wildlife science at Cornell University, said surgical sterilization was pursued on campus.

“After spaying 90 percent of the female deer on our campus, we saw a population stabilization, but nowhere near the reduction we hoped for,” Curtis said.

He cited the village of Cayuga Heights as a good example of a large reduction in the deer population through a combination of both sterilization and culling. The village went from 125 deer per square mile down to 12 deer per square mile in five years.

There are about 50 deer per square mile on Syracuse’s eastside, and the goal is to get that closer to ten. Sterilization is also more expensive with costs starting at $1,000 per deer compared to $100 per deer to cull. The Syracuse plan recommends studying sterilization in the future, after an initial reduction in deer numbers.

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.