BOISE, Idaho (AP) — For years, Councilman Steve Roberge has watched white-tailed deer push his tiny north Idaho town to the limit.
Herds with as many as 40 deer casually walk through front lawns on a daily basis. Complaints of deer-related fence damage are common. Meanwhile, speed limits remain strictly low to reduce the risk of collision.
Now after seeing no change in the population one year after enforcing a feeding ban along with relocation efforts, city council members in Dalton Gardens are considering using birth control vaccines to curb the population.
“We should have around 25 to 30 deer per square mile. In Dalton we estimate there are about 150 to 250 per square mile,” Roberge said, who will be the town’s mayor come January. “And Dalton is only two square miles.”
The city council will consider approving the vaccinations and details about how they would be administered in 2016, when the newly-elected counselors and mayor take office.
Sterilization methods are not new for controlling urban deer herds across the United States. However, the implementation has been slow to catch on in Idaho. According to Roberge, if the bedroom community north of Coeur d’Alene adopts the birth control vaccines, it will be the first city in Idaho to use sterilization vaccines to reduce its longstanding deer population.
Controlling deer populations in Dalton Gardens has not been without its division.
In 2013, seven deer were illegally shot and dumped in the city, but the offender was never caught. On the other end of the spectrum, self-described deer advocates argue that the herds are a normal part of living in the northern Idaho community.
In September, the city council listened to a presentation on sterilization vaccination from the Montana-based Science and Conservation Center.
According to the center, the vaccine, distributed through a dart gun, would sterilize deer for up to two years. The center sells the vaccine for $24 per 0.5 ml. Depending on the species, the vaccine is given in two doses and then would need a booster every year.
By KIMBERLEE KRUESI | Associated Press