OP-ED: Other ways to control deer population

Oct. 10, 2016 - I read, with interest, Publisher John Malmberg’s editorial Sept. 21 entitled Urban deer herd needs reduced at codyenterprise.com.

However, I respectfully disagree with specific concerns raised. In general, there is a lack of transparency on the part of Wyoming Game and Fish (G&F) regarding how the agency collects data to arrive at its conclusions, including recommended night censusing methodology, and expert evaluation of deer health and injury by wildlife veterinarians.

Also, the public urban deer survey was unscientific, short on substance and non-randomized. To be accurate, questionnaire/survey design requires input from professionals to effect a meaningful appraisal. Data should be generalizable for the entire population of Cody, and they were not.

Online surveys are notoriously erroneous. The incidence of deer/vehicle accidents and other interactions (71 since Jan. 1, 2016) are not fully analyzed but summarized in a list that gives no details.

Cody seems to be following other Wyoming cities in controlling mule deer populations through lethal means. That does not make it right, nor humane. I consider sharpshooting does dangerous and disruptive of normal family social organization. If a fawn is not yet weaned, it will perish. One mishap could cost the City of Cody untold thousands of dollars in litigation, and the emotional toll on vulnerable children and adults should be a major consideration.

Fertility control would not be expensive if the G&F or the city communicated with wildlife researchers at the University of Wyoming’s Dept. of Zoology and Physiology or with the non-profit Science and Conservation Center (SCC) in Billings that makes the porcine zona pellucida (native PZP) vaccine. Authorization of an Investigational New Animal Drug (INAD), through the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been sought for white-tailed deer studies in other settings, and a permit could similarly be pursued by Cody.

G&F has stated that native PZP is not approved for use in deer. However, that is inaccurate. It can be used on an experimental basis while registration by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is in process.

I question the safety of area deer meat. Research continues on whether or not Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) can be transmitted to humans through venison consumption. It is unlikely but hardly settled.

Has there been any testing of deer meat from animals involved in vehicle/deer accidents? Has a veterinarian, with a wildlife specialty, been called in to test the blood of these deer and to examine their state of injury, health and nutrition?

Therein lies yet another avenue for a potential lawsuit. I am an animal welfarist, not an animal rights advocate. I am not against hunting. In fact, hunting is what keeps this wildlife species in check in Hunt Areas, but an urban environment presents a far different ecosystem.

We should seek to find better answers to controlling city wildlife without complete mania. The wild mares of McCullough Peaks Herd Management Area are now administered the exact same drug, and there have been no gathers there in three years.

Friends of a Legacy (FOAL) has the equipment and trained darting personnel. Has anyone contacted their board to see if they might lend a hand, albeit with a different species?

Patricia M. Fazio


Originally published Oct. 10, 2016, in the Cody, Wyo., Enterprise.

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