The Brunswick News
October 24, 2014

No need to destroy deer on Jekyll Island

It would be sad for Jekyll Island, famous as a nature preserve and a great place for family vacations, to become known as a killing field for deer.

Furthermore, there does not seem to be adequate information pointing to any necessity for such drastic action.

The method used for estimating deer density is not appropriate for that purpose, as judged by the National Park Service.

The plant survey is similarly flawed. At a minimum, better estimates of both deer density and vegetation adequacy would be needed to justify reduction of deer population to save vegetation.

If population reduction is necessary, there are several reproductive control agents developed for wildlife that are practical, successful and sustainable:

One example is a vaccination given to female deer through remote application by dart.

Its cost compares favorably with hiring sharpshooters and it has been used successfully to reduce the deer population in locations similar to Jekyll Island.

Surgical sterilization is another option. An approach is currently being used by Fairfax City, Va., and has been successfully used in Maryland.

The lethal method is not sustainable and usually requires killing large numbers year after year, often without any significant decrease in the problems that prompted the control measure.

Hiring Wildlife Services to bait and shoot the deer could be costly in both money and the island’s reputation. I urge the authorities to at least give other options a chance.
Anne Barton
Washington, D.C.