National organization weighs in on deer debate

A national organization is joining a local debate.

T he Humane Society of the United Stateswrote a letter asking the Village of Cayuga Heights to avoid using a controversial technique to control the deer population. Cayuga Heights covers less than two square miles, but it's home to up to 200 deer. The village is considering whether to use a method called "net and bolt" to kill some of the animals. It involves netting the deer, then using a bolt gun to kill them.

T he Humane Society says the technique can't be done correctly and consistently enough in the wild to be humane. The group also says it does not agree with argument that the deer population should be controlled because of car crashes with deer. The Human Society says previous studies have shown little evidence that deer density impacts the amount of crashes.

T he village has not made any decisions yet on controlling the deer population.

You can read previous coverage below on the debate over the issue.

How do you think the population should be controlled? Should it be controlled at all? Join the conversation by leaving a comment below the story.

Monday Update:

More than 100 people packed the Cayuga Heights Elementary School gymnasium, to weigh in on the deer debate. Cayuga Heights is less than 2 square miles, but is home to about 200 deer. The village is considering a number of methods to control the population, including bringing in professional sharp shooters or the net and bolt method, which captures deer in a net, and then kills them with a bolt gun. But it's a controversial idea that is raising emotions among residents.

Ralph Bishop, and many others at the public meeting, call the net and bolt method cruel. "You can't really mess with nature too much, I think it's a horrible thing," said Ralph Bishop who held a sign outside the meeting, asking whether you could explain the net and bolt method to your children. "We encroached on their space, not they on ours. And i think this brutal slaughter is insane. I think ice storms do a lot more damage to our shrubs than deer do."

But others who spoke at the public meeting say something has to be done to control the out-of-control population, amid fears that it will just continue to grow. "I like deer but I'm concerned about the whole eco system. With the deer present we only have invasive plants, and it destroys the whole food web and I like other creatures and other plants besides the deer," said Rose Marie Parker. Others raised the concerns over deer becoming a traffic hazard, and ruining gardens in the village.

Charlene Temple says she hopes people can find some common ground and consider alternatives. She suggests a zoning change in the village, to allow people to put up higher fences and keep deer out of their yard. "I feel like we are all sharing the planet and its humane to let them live just as we let other animals live who may get in the way of our gardens," she said.

No decisions were made at the meeting, and the village board isn't expected to make one for a few months. What do you think? Should the village find a way to control the population, or should the deer be left alone? Leave a comment below and join the conversation. You can also scroll down and read our previous coverage of this story.

Talk at 10:

The debate continued tonight over a controversial deer killing method in Cayuga Heights.

The village held a public hearing on its draft environmental impact statement. The plan calls for capturing and sterilizing 20 to 60 doe and then killing the rest. Rather than have the Village hire sharpshooters, the DEC suggested a method called "net and bolt." It involves luring deer to an area and then trapping them with a net. A short while later, several people show up to slaughter the deer through the use of a bolt gun.

What do you think? Is this the proper way to control the deer population? What suggestions do you have? Join us tonight for the Talk @ 10 on the CW 6 News at 10.

Original story:

A controversial method of killing deer has stirred an emotional debate in the Tompkins County village of Cayuga Heights.

Cayuga Heights is a picturesque and affluent community just outside the City of Ithaca. Officials say the village has a big problem with deer. They estimate there are up to 200 deer living in a village of just 1.8 square miles.

Instead of being afraid of people, Mayor Kate Supron says the deer raid local gardens, endanger pets and have become a traffic hazard. "There are people who say the deer were here first, but we live in a managed eco-system." Supron explained, "Therefore when it gets out of balance, we have to manage the ecosystem and we just have too many deer."

Cayuga Heights has come up with a deer management program. It calls for capturing and sterilizing 20 to 60 doe and then killing the rest. The Village is considering the possibility of hiring sharpshooters, but the state DEC has offered another alternative slaughtering method called "net and bolt."

Opponents have circulated a video of the method. It shows deer being lured to bait, when suddenly the blast of a rocket propelled net traps them. A short while later, several people show up to slaughter the deer through the use of a bolt gun.

The net and bolt technique has stirred emotion among opponents to the deer management plan including local author Ann Druyan . "To shoot a steel rod through the brain while they're struggling for life seems to me to be completely brutal and unwanted." Druyan told CNY Central's Jim Kenyon.

Supron says the Village Board hasn't decided on any method yet "When you're killing an animal, it's not going to be pretty whether you're shooting it or using a captive bolt gun." Supron said.

Druyan fears what the deer kill could do to the character of the community. "That's one of the reasons I love living in Ithaca," says the wife of the late astrophysicist Carl Sagan , "Generally it's an oasis of kindness and regard for life."

The debate will heighten on Monday evening when the village holds a public hearing on its draft environmental impact statement. The crowd,both for and against the deer management plan, is expected to pack the elementary school auditorium.

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