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Researchers Were Trying to Limit a Deer Population. The Plan Backfired When They Turned 77 Does Into 'Buck Magnets'.

Image via Doug Wheller/flickr

Want to control a deer population?

Creating constantly-in-heat "buck magnets" might not be your best short term bet.

Image via Doug Wheller/flickr Image via Doug Wheller/flickr

The deer population in central New York has been problematically growing for years, as the Syracuse Post-Standard reported recently, but researchers at Cornell University tried a humane approach to population control starting in 2009: a combination of hunting and selective sterilization of does.

At a cost of $1,200 per doe, 77 does were captured and sterilized via tubal ligation in the Ithaca, New York, area, the Washington Post reported.

Years down the road, has Ithaca's deer population dropped to sustainable levels?


Four years after started the program, there were 100 deer on Cornell's campus — the same number as when the program was launched.

While the number of does and fawns dropped, the area was flooded with bucks from surrounding areas because the researchers had inadvertently turned the does into "mate here" signal beacons.

Normally does all go into heat at the same time and get pregnant, the Post-Standard reported, but the does that had undergone tubal ligation couldn't get pregnant so they went into heat month after month after month, attracting bucks from all over the state to come and try to impregnate them.

In the long run, it seems sterilization would eventually reduce a population, but for the short term, tubal ligation is not the best bet for a town wrestling with too many deer.

Follow Zach Noble (@thezachnoble) on Twitter

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