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CONTRACEPTIVES COULD EASE DEER PROBLEMS

The Humane Society of the United States is committed to seeking humane solutions to human/deer conflicts.

For more than two years, the society has been working with the Town of Amherst, local businesses, citizen volunteers, the Erie County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to start a deer immunocontraception research program in Amherst.

This study would assess immunocontraception as a non-lethal tool to control the deer population, test a modified version of the immunocontraceptive vaccine and provide background information on deer population and movements for the town to use in preparing its deer-management plan.

After an extensive review and revisions, the DEC issued a research permit in time for the project to begin last winter. However, the project was postponed after a lawsuit filed by an ill-informed international trophy-hunting organization caused the DEC to withdraw the permit.

On Feb. 26, the Humane Society filed a new permit application, with the additional environmental documentation requested by the DEC, and timely review was promised. After six months, the DEC is only now beginning the formal environmental review. We do not understand the reasons for the delay.

Nevertheless, the consequences are clear: The Humane Society and its Amherst partners will be unable to begin the project before deer begin breeding this fall.

As a result, more fawns will be added to Amherst's deer population next spring, less information on deer will be available to town planners, critical research will be delayed and the efforts of dozens of local volunteers will be squandered.

We now plan to begin contraceptive treatments of deer in the Great Baehre Swamp in winter 1999. However, our ability to do so requires prompt action by the DEC and the continued support of the town.

Allen T. Rutberg The Humane Society
Washington, D.C.
S. Bruce Kohrn SBK Environmental Research
Amherst

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