Entering Year 4 of the Clifton Deer Project

From the CliftonDeer.org Team:

With the sterilization of eight more does last Fall, year 3 of field operations brought the total number of treated deer to 59, or 91% of our total adult female deer population.  Based on field camera counts, the herd within our study area has shrunk by 19% since we started.  This rate of reduction is steady and contrasts sharply with the 30% increase reported by the Parks in the year before we started.  A more detailed Year 3 Field Operations Report can be found on our website here.

Our goal this Fall is to reach 95% by capturing the most elusive does over a series of weekend operations.  In addition to the wile ones who browse happily at our bait sites until just before the darter arrives (never question the intelligence of these critters), we will also be seeking out the “borderland deer” whose territory overlaps with but extends beyond the study area. This should result in more of the benefits of the deer program reaching the streets within the study area closest to Clifton and Ludlow Avenues.

We are happy to report the Ohio Department of Natural Resources has renewed our research permit to continue operations for another two years.  While the numbers from this study, and others around the country, are already showing clear indications sterilization can effectively reduce deer populations in open urban settings, another two years of data will be important to reaching any firm conclusions that might support requests to States for permission to use fertility control as an ongoing urban deer population management tool.

One component of the study, and a critical requirement for the long term viability of sterilization as a management alternative, is making it cost effective.  Obviously, this means comparing sterilization’s effectiveness in reducing deer overabundance to other methods, but it also means finding economically viable ways for communities to implement programs like this one.  To that end, Clifton Deer is in it’s second year of recruiting and training local volunteer veterinary surgeons and a darter-capture specialist.  Transitioning from reliance on expensive out-of-town experts to assumption of these duties by local professionals and volunteers could greatly improve the cost side of the cost effectiveness calculation.

Finally, we are proud to report that as one of the few, and maybe the only citizen initiated and managed fertility control program in the country, CliftonDeer.org was invited by the international Botstiber Institute for Wildlife Fertility Control to present at a national conference on deer fertility control in New York on May 2nd.  The success of the Clifton project has drawn the attention of experts from around the country.  A video of that conference should soon be available on the Botstiber website at https://www.wildlifefertilitycontrol.org/.

As always, we are grateful for the support of our Clifton neighbors who donate and volunteer their yards and time to make this project possible.  Fundraising for the Fall ’18 operations has begun and your help is needed.  Please consider a tax deductible donation through one of the methods explained on our website at http://cliftondeer.org/donations/.

Have you met Doe #32? Still looking healthy and happy at almost 9 years of age, this gentle doe makes her home in the woods and yards around Mt. Storm Park and is often seen with her BFF, 5 year old Doe #7. Both were sterilized during our December 2015 field operations. (Photo Credit: Sally Skillman)

Bob Rack, co-founder of CliftonDeer.org, giving Clifton international exposure at the Botstiber Institute for Wildlife Fertility Control conference in NYC earlier this month.

 

The CliftonDeer.org Team

CliftonDeer.org Update

Recap:

The Clifton deer fertility control pilot program is a citizen response to the Cincinnati Parks’ invitation to collaborate on a non-lethal alternative to bow-hunting for reducing overabundant herds in 3 Clifton Neighborhood parks. Operating under a permit granted in 2015 by the Wildlife Division of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the program involves a three to five year study of deer migration patterns and the efficacy of sterilization for deer population management.

CliftonDeer.org, is a local 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization formed to sponsor, assist, and provide funding for the program.  It builds community support – financial and otherwise – to create an infrastructure of expertise and funding needed to complete the study and to secure the viability of the program on an ongoing basis.

First Year Results:

In December of 2015, project consultant Dr. Anthony DeNicola of White Buffalo, Inc. led a team of wildlife biologists, veterinarians, and volunteers (including U.C. students, Cliftonites, and U.S. Humane Society personnel) through six nights of field operations in which 41 does were sterilized and tagged and 3 incidental male fawns were tagged and released.  Detailed results of that effort are reported at 2015 Field Operations Report on the project’s website, www.cliftondeer.org.

Two important findings resulted from last Fall’s work.  First, field observations and a post-operations camera survey revealed that the deer population in the study area (bounded by Ludlow Ave., Clifton Ave., and I-75) was much larger than estimated based on the Parks’ aerial infrared population counts—roughly 100 instead of 60. Faced with unexpectedly large numbers, Dr. DeNicola focused his efforts on the mature does who would be likely to reproduce this Spring and planned to target the female fawns in 2016.  Second, despite the unexpectedly large deer population, Dr. DeNicola believes that his team sterilized approximately 86% of the adult doe population within the study area, and that this should be enough to stop herd growth and may begin reductions.

2016 Goals:

This Fall Dr. DeNicola plans to capture and sterilize the few adult does missed last year, new immigrant does, and newly matured female fawns in the study area.  He and his team will also devote extra time to training a local darter and a local veterinarian with the goal that they can eventually carry on the program with less reliance on expensive outside involvement.  Finally, he will conduct a 2-week post-operations field camera population survey.

The dates of field operations have not yet been set, but will most likely occur in December.

Funding:

With the discovery of nearly twice as many deer as originally estimated from the Parks’ surveys, and the need for more accurate counts, costs of operations this year, while 25% lower than last year, are expected to be higher than originally projected.  Funds are being requested from two national and one local foundation. If successful, these grants will cover at least 60% to 80% of this year’s operating expenses, reducing significantly the amount of fundraising that will be required. We should know the status of those grant requests within weeks.  As promised last year, no funds will be requested from CTM.

In the meantime, we invite the community to: