LANHAM, Md. (CBSDC) — Even City of Fairfax Mayor Scott Silverthorne says it sounds like something from a parody news site, but he and five of six city councilors OK’d the idea Tuesday night anyway.
Beginning this winter, Fairfax will be the first location in Virginia, and Silverthorne says probably the first in the D.C. area, to begin spaying female deer to control the population.
While the method won’t produce drastic and immediate results like sharpshooting might, the number of deer within the six-and-a-half square mile city will start to decline within a few years.
The project still needs approval from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, but the mayor says that looks very likely.
According to Silverthorne, council members debated last summer over whether or not to allow controlled deer hunts with bows and arrows or shotguns within city limits. Ultimately, neither idea was supported.
He felt obligated, he says, to find a “different and outside the box approach.”
The city ended up connecting with White Buffalo, a nonprofit wildlife management and research organization.
Using grant funding, not taxpayer dollars, Silverthorne says, the organization will tranquilize female deer, anesthetize them and have veterinarians surgically remove their ovaries.
They don’t work with bucks because “males are not monogamous,” according to the mayor.
“We feel comfortable that the animals are treated humanely and that we can do this in a reasonably efficient manner,” co-founder and President of White Buffalo Dr. Anthony DeNicola told the council Tuesday.
Deer can recover from the procedure within a matter of hours.
“I think conceptually, it could and should work,” Silverthorne says. “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.”
Although he recognizes that the program can sound extreme to those unfamiliar with it, he compares it to the feral cat spay programs that many jurisdictions support.