Lawsuit Filed Over Long Island Deer Sterilization Program

Nov 12, 2015

The lawsuit charged that at least nine animals have died of complications from surgery or pregnancies.

An effort to curb eastern Long Island's deer population through sterilization has angered animal lovers who say veterinarians are botching the surgeries.

The East Hampton Group for Wildlife filed a lawsuit on November 6 seeking to halt the sterilization program, according to Newsday.

The group said East Hampton Village, New York's contractors performed surgeries in an unsanitary shed, didn't wear proper protective gear, and used veterinarians not licensed in New York state.

The sterilization is intended as a non-lethal alternative to culling the herd, but the lawsuit charged that at least nine animals have died of complications from surgery or pregnancies.

The contractor for the program, Connecticut-based White Buffalo Inc., defended the sterilization initiative. 

White Buffalo founder Anthony DeNicola said foes are "reaching for straws."

In an October 2014 report in The Hartford Courant, DeNicola was described as “a professional and proficient deer-killer” who had by then killed about 10,000 deer since 1995 through his non-profit company. Animal lovers and DiNicola have differing opinions about the sterilization process.

From the report:

Animal rights activists complain DeNicola uses inhumane methods to trap or dart the female deer to be sterilized. Others complain about the high cost. It can cost three times as much to capture and sterilize a doe than it does to shoot it.

The [sterilization] process is complex and labor-intensive, DeNicola said. First, a doe must be located, then tranquilized with a dart fired from a compressed air gun, or she has to be netted and tranquilized. The animal is then transported to the station where DeNicola and other trained biologists shave and prepare the doe for removal of her ovaries. Then the deer must be returned to a safe area and allowed to revive.

According to the group's Facebook page, a rally against the "disastrous sterilization program" will be held in East Hampton Village on Saturday, November 14.

Leyda Quast is an intern at WNPR. This report includes information from The Associated Press.