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Conservation Impacts
  • Developing management strategies for out-of-control wildlife populations

Integrated deer population management and research study

In the absence of natural predators, white-tailed deer populations in Upstate New York have skyrocketed, resulting in increasing human-deer interactions. The purpose of this study is to implement and evaluate a deer research and management program to reduce negative economic impacts for humans and health impacts for deer.

This project is conducted on Cornell University lands. We divided the lands into two zones, a core campus area and outlying areas. In the core zone, we aim to reduce deer damage to unique plant collections and research plots, and to minimize safety risks associated with deer. Our goal is to reduce deer-associated complaints using fertility control, fencing and repellants. In outlying areas, we manage the deer population through controlled hunting.

A deer fertility control study is currently under way in the core campus area.  Deer included in this project will be captured via dart rifle or in cages or nets that are set up on Cornell lands and the properties of cooperating community members. Deer are handled humanely, in accordance with protocols that have been filed with the Cornell Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee and following NYS Department of Environmental Conservation Special Licenses Unit procedures.  Captured deer will be fitted with numbered ear tags that will allow for individual identification. Some of the mature females will also be fitted with radio-transmitters, which will help us monitor their movements around the community and document home ranges.  Captured deer are transported to the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine and are either surgically spayed or

We anticipate that this project will provide vital information on the ability to manage deer populations. The results to this research will help determine if fertility control is a viable, long-term approach for managing deer or other wildlife populations.