Fairfax City will sterilize, not hunt deer

WASHINGTON – In parts of the region deer hunts are held to reduce overpopulation, but one local community is making history by choosing a different method.

The City of Fairfax will be the first jurisdiction in Virginia to allow female deer to be surgically sterilized in an effort to control the animals’ numbers.

City leaders have voted to take part in an experimental, grant-funded program conducted by Dr. Anthony DeNicola of the nonprofit group White Buffalo.

The group specializes in both deer sharpshooting and research into alternative methods of deer population control.

“While I understand the need for controlling the population, I also wanted to make sure we did it in a way that was the most humane,” Fairfax Mayor Scott Silverthorne told WTOP.

“(With) archery, there was just too much evidence, at least for me, to get comfortable with the humane question.”

Silverthorne said he’s heard of cases locally and around the country in which a deer managed to live as long as several days after being shot with an arrow.

He’s also not comfortable with allowing the use of firearms in such a densely populated city.

The mayor said the sterilization program will begin quickly – within the next few weeks – because this is an ideal time of year to do it.

Over the summer, Fairfax turned down a plan to allow deer hunts in certain places, and city leaders later passed an ordinance banning hunts entirely.

Silverthorne said he’s very excited about the sterilization program.

“It’s going to provide some really interesting research we believe, going forward, and other jurisdictions in Virginia may decide to follow our lead,” he said.

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