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Grand Haven council member: Deer birth control a 'win-win'

6:32 PM, Nov 14, 2013   |    comments
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GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (WZZM) -- Invited or not, they're moving into downtown Grand Haven and now city leaders have a tough decision about how to control the deer population.

One council member's unusual proposal is a similar treatment to what humans use: birth control.

The deer are snacking in a neighborhood, prancing outside city hall, and even watching planes land at the airport. Pictures show the animals doing many of the same things people might do.

"They've been displaced," says John Hierholzer, a Grand Haven City Council member.

Hierholzer's answer to the growing deer population is one that many people use: birth control. He says it's a better option than hunting deer, which the city tried in 2008.

"This we took as a win-win, we're able to manage the population and at the same time not kill the population," says Hierholzer.

Deer birth control was one of the possible solutions presented this week to council by the Humane Society of the United States.

One of the issues is the cost, which is about $200 per deer that gets birth control. To put that in perspective, a monthly dose of birth control for a person is about $30.

The method requires deer to be tranquilized with a dart and then injected with birth control.

"It prevents the egg from being fertilized with the sperm, so yeah I guess it's similar to human contraception in that regard," says Hierholzer.

Robert Walwood, is the owner of Coffee Grounds coffee shop and a hunter. He thinks deer birth control is a joke, "I think that's kind of a silly idea, I don't like that thought-- I think we shouldn't mess with nature in that way."

WZZM 13 asked Hierholzer about his reaction to some people thinking deer birth control is a wacky idea. "I think we need to sit down and as a community come together on this," says Hierholzer.

The deer contraceptive lasts for three years, so it's an ongoing commitment to keep the population in check.

City leaders expect a final report from the Humane Society in the next couple weeks to see if deer birth control is feasible for the area.

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