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Staten Island deer population down due to vasectomies

The deer population on Staten Island is dropping, the city said, thanks to sterilization efforts.
deer, whitetail deer, staten island deer
A white-tailed deer, the same kind that have been found on Staten Island. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Staten Island’s deer population has dropped 8 percent thanks to sterilization efforts by the city, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Thursday.

An explosion in the borough’s deer population has been causing headaches for residents, but two years into the city’s “deer impact management plan,” Staten Island is seeing some changes.

“There are fewer deer on Staten Island than last year,” de Blasio said in a statement. “We are already seeing tangible progress from this novel strategy, and earlier than expected. These numbers show that our smart, humane plan is the right one, both for Staten Islanders and their antlered neighbors.”

According to a survey conducted by White Buffalo, Inc and verified by NYC Parks, Staten Island’s deer population has dropped from 2,053 in 2017 to 1,884 in 2018.

Fawn births have also dropped by more than 50 percent compared to the previous year, the survey found.

The management plan, launched in May 2016, includes a sterilization study focusing on male deer as a way to taper the population.

A total of 1,154 vasectomies have been completed by March 17, 2018, representing approximately 94 percent of the male deer population.

“Because deer have no natural predators on Staten Island and abundant sources of food in the borough, we can reasonably attribute the significant drop in their population to our human population controls,” said Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver in a statement. “In short, two years into our study, we can already demonstrate signs of success.”

Experts believe the deer migrated to Staten Island from New Jersey.

These white-tailed deer do pose “significant challenges” to residents’ health and safety when in high numbers, according to the city. A large deer population can increase deer-vehicle collisions, tick-borne illnesses and also harm forest biodiversity and tree regeneration in the area.

Due to the decline in fawn birth rates and estimates on adult deer mortality, the city expects the Staten Island deer population to drop even more in the next year.