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Jan 20, 2015 5:32 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

First Phase Of Deer Spaying In East Hampton Village Wraps Up

Jan 20, 2015 5:32 PM

The deer spaying initiative, aiming to reduce the deer population in East Hampton Village, is more than halfway complete, as the company spearheading the job wrapped up the first phase of the project on Friday afternoon.

White Buffalo Inc., a Connecticut-based nonprofit specializing in natural resources management, was contracted by East Hampton Village to perform ovariectomies, a surgical procedure to remove a doe’s ovaries. The does are shot with a dart gun, tranquilized, and taken to a makeshift field operating room nearby in the field via pickup truck, where they undergo the procedure.

Roughly 60 percent of the does in East Hampton Village have gotten the procedure, said White Buffalo Inc. founder Dr. Tony DeNicola on Tuesday, and the company plans to return to the village in February to tackle the other 40 percent.

“One hundred fourteen does have been sterilized so far,” he said. “We think there are about 200 females in the area, and a total of 250 to 300 deer.”

Dr. DeNicola said he and his staff ran into a small setback due to the extended hunting season and were unable to bait the deer because of regulations by the Department of Environmental Conservation. “I was already scheduled to come there when the extended hunting season was approved, so what happened was, [my team and I] were driving around with a village cop and just darting the deer that way.”

Baiting, he said, is more efficient than “darting opportunistically,” but he and his team made the best of the situation. “Oh, we were definitely hustling,” he laughed. “But this happens everywhere, it’s not just New York,” he said of extended hunting seasons. “If these hunters can’t kill their deer in three months, adding another month or two months doesn’t really help. It often interferes with alternative methods people are trying to do to control the population.”

Dr. DeNicola said he could not disclose where the deer surgeries were being performed, for fear of interruption from those opposed to the project, but Village Administrator Becky Molinaro said the project, thus far, has been smooth sailing. “So far, we’re extremely pleased with the results,” she said.

But Ilissa Meyer of Equine Sport Science, whose husband, Dr. James Meyer, is a veterinarian, is far from pleased with the project.

“They’re refusing any contact,” she said of the village and Dr. DeNicola. “I don’t know where any of the surgeries were performed, and it’s a little to secretive, as far as I’m concerned. They were performing on deer in sub-zero conditions.”

Dr. DeNicola said there is no added risk performing the procedures in cold weather, and that if they are killed by hunters, the animals’ meat is safe to be consumed after 45 days, given the immobilizing drug used to sedate the deer before surgery.

“We tag all the deer after the surgeries,” he explained, adding that there is a number on the tag for hunters to call for information about when the meat is safe to consume.

As for seeing a decrease in population, Dr. DeNicola said residents can expect to see a decline after White Buffalo’s second year working in the village. “When we come back next year, hopefully, we’ll get 80 or 90 percent of the population, and people will really start to see the benefit,” he said.

This year, the village pledged $30,000 toward the program, and an additional $105,000 was raised by the East Hampton Village Preservation Society.

The village has committed to a multi-year contract with White Buffalo, according to Ms. Molinaro, but the costs are expected to drop by next year. “Other projects done by White Buffalo show that the biggest cost is in the first year,” she said. “I believe, as research has shown, [Dr. DeNicola] hasn’t had to come back to towns in a third year. But we’ll have a much better idea what the extent of the program will be for the 2015-16 fiscal year.”

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That's not what happened up in Cayuga heights.... the cost actually went up. And a sterilization project at Cornell has had some unintended consequences! The does went into perpetual heat .... fewer fawns, but enough full grown bucks came from away to chase those does and kept the total population steady over a five year period.
By Split Rock (68), North Haven on Jan 21, 15 3:07 PM
Done at taxpayers expence again. Nice
By rchamb1203 (8), east northport on Jan 21, 15 6:07 PM
Awaiting the results. All of them.,
By Woods woman (145), East hampton on Jan 21, 15 10:30 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Ben_Linton (5), Southold on Jan 21, 15 11:32 PM
Split Rock, The cost in Cayuga did go up, but you'd expect that later in any effort when you are mobilizing to get the last few deer. The Cornell project was a completely different effort where they performed tubal ligations. Deer do continue to cycle with tubals, but that's not what is being done here. If you look at the Cornell work, you will see that the total number of females decreased.
By Ben_Linton (5), Southold on Jan 22, 15 9:11 AM
what a waste of time and money. the deer that are spayed will probably be hit and killed by a car or shot by a hunter :/
By Jaws (245), Amity Island on Jan 22, 15 3:17 PM
Would that the perspicacity and compassion of East Hampton Village be mirrored in the unfortunately dull reflections of other East End municipalities. In spite of the ignorant criticisms of the mean and of the fans of killing, East Hampton enabled a humane program that WORKED.

What kind of people ARE we out here?
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Jan 22, 15 3:38 PM