City leaders consider birth control to curb deer

Grand Haven officials got another perspective on deer population management —one that involves a form of birth control rather than bullets.
Alex Doty
Nov 13, 2013


Representatives of the Humane Society of the United States met with City Council and members of the community on Tuesday to discuss immunocontraception.

“We typically get called into a community where there’s an impasse in deer management,” said Stephanie Boyles Griffin, senior director of wildlife response, innovations and services for the society. “They call us in to see what the potential is for different options.”

In this case, City Councilmen Mike Fritz and John Hierholzer worked to get the Humane Society to come and talk.

“Many say that a bullet is so much cheaper, but it is not always humane,” Fritz said.

During the city’s deer cull in 2010, $9,962 was spent to take 51 deer — a cost of about $160 per animal. According to the Humane Society, the cost of the contraception project would be about $200 per dose, with a dose lasting about three years.

The vaccine is biodegradable and doesn’t pass through the food chain. In deer, the contraceptive effects of the vaccine are reversible after several years of treatment.

“You have to look at this as an opportunity rather than a problem,” Griffin said. “Numbers-wise, it’s easy to take a gun and remove a biological portion of the population.”

To get an idea of how well Grand Haven would fare, Griffin and her team from the Humane Society scouted the city’s deer population. So far, they’ve gotten positive results.

If the city decided to go this route, it would need approval from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. If the DNR says no, it’s a no-go.

Experts say it would be an ongoing process.

“Management is going to be like cutting the grass — you’re going to cull for a long time or you’re going to do this for a long time,” Griffin said. “Once you start, to keep the animal population the way it is, you will have to keep doing it.”

To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.



How about a 12 ft tall fence around the city limits, has that been discussed at council. You could put in steel grates in the road like they use on the range land in AZ. The fence could run out maybe 100 ft into lake mi. It would keep the swimmers from getting run over by the boats too. Then give the ones inside the fence birth controll pills and problem solved. Remember the robtownredneck thought of it first. You could still offer a bounty for the ones left inside the fence. That might speed up the process.


I am now dumber after reading that.


For a picosecond I thought you were serious.


mmm GMO Venison coming up!


Newsblogger unless you are poaching, you won't be eating city deer meat. And if you read the science you will see it ia a natural protein they use.


The price of the deer cull last time is always understated for some reason. The official FOIA docs out there showed it was $9,962 before the final $5000 bill came in from APHIS. It also did not include cop overtime, etc. Even if it is double the cost to not have killing in our parks, it would be worth it. Community polarization and endangerment to citizens from the supposed "experts" is something you can't put a price on. But it is too high...By the way - great PR for GH to be one of the cities doing this. A win win.


If your gonna shoot them anyhow...make it a tranquilizer! Sedate them and relocate them to STATE land, thus allowing licensed hunters to manage the herd! I don't know how many friends I have (who hunt State land and come up empty every year) because all the deer are located in areas their not allowed to private land...AND THE CITY LIMITS!!


So let me guess...

The abstinence training didn't work out so well? Stupid deer they just don't listen nowadays.


I don't like the idea of shooting tranquilizer darts in areas that the public uses. For the simple fact theses darts don't always stay in the animal when they are shot. God forbid a child find one while walking in Duncan woods! I have been involved in the darting of many deer. This is Not a good idea to do in town.


Tell us about where and with whom you darted deer Drake0304.


There was a local deer farm that closed about 6 years ago. The people that owned it were personal friends of mine. I had the privilege of working with them for 5 years before they closed it down.


Instead of worrying about controlling the deer, why not control the population of humans, darn young bucks think its a breeding ground in this country and produce children witch they have no desire of supporting,, but the state do not believe in social medicine, leave deer alone and worry about more important issue,s, no, not dewy hill neither, lol


HA, have them sign up for Obamacare. Free birth control included! Oh wait, the taxpayers will get SCREWED either way!


First, I don't believe these deer survey guestimates are at all accurate. I don't see many deer, and the number of deer I do see are pretty stable. However, I think deer contraception is great idea. Having men running around Grand Haven shooting high powered rifles is a serious safety threat to Grand Haven families, children, and pets, and is an accident waiting to happen. Grand Haven is too densely populated and developed to have any kind of shooting or hunting in the community. Deer contraception will stabilize and reduce the deer population, and will not pose a safety threat to residents.


How do you think the contraception is administered? It is done by SHOOTING a dart out of a GUN! Come on people do some research. This is not all it is cracked up to be.


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