Deer Damage Management Program Summary Report 2017-2018
The Secret Life of Whitetails: Trailer
This award-winning program unravels the mysteries of deer and why they have adapted the suburban life. If possible, we encourage you to watch the entire documentary.
Proposed Deer Management Plan
A public hearing was held on Monday, October 23rd at DeWitt Town Hall regarding the adoption and implementation of the proposed Deer Management Plan. The Press Release announcing the Public Hearing was sent to over 12 media outlets. Several stations were present during the meeting.
Community members addressed the Town Board--many expressing gratitude and appreciation. The Board overwhelmingly adopted the proposed Deer Management Plan.
Looking forward, the Town will begin the application process to the DEC for a Deer Damage Permit. Once site locations are determined, implementation will require further approval of the Town Board, State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR), as well as approval by NYS DEC through the permitting process.
Terminology and Technical Information
Please take a moment to review the information presented on this page. The Town of DeWitt has been very active in understanding this issue. The Background and Links at the bottom of the page will help you understand our journey. For our purposes, the following terms and definitions may be helpful: lethal management = killing deer through a traditional hunt or through a cull (bait and shoot; needs DEC approval); non-lethal management = contraception.
The Town of DeWitt noticed a slight uptick in deer complaints in 2014 and began keeping track of the complaints. When we mapped the addresses we noticed that the complaints were generally concentrated to specific areas within the Town, most notably north of I-481 and south of Genesee Street. The Town was interested in learning more about these issues and organized an information sharing opportunity with neighboring municipalities and governing agencies in 2015. This meeting was quite informative and we quickly understood the complexity and challenges ahead.
Learning from communities like Cayuga Heights, the Town recognized the necessity for community involvement. As a result, in 2016, the Town organized a Deer Task Force comprised of community members that had expressed concern about the issue in the recent past. A broad array of stakeholders were assembled including animal rights advocates, hunters, farmers, parents of young children, gardeners, etc. Over a period of about 10 months, experts presented to the group on deer population size; impacts to the environment and people; management options; benefits and costs; experiences; and challenges and opportunities. Around this same time, SUNY-ESF received funding through Assemblyperson Hunter’s office to determine current deer densities and model future populations under specified scenarios.
No matter what side of the issue members represented, there was a general sense of frustration. This group was unable to make any recommendations after meeting for almost a year. Subsequently they were disbanded in late 2016.
On Saturday, April 29, 2016 the Town hosted a public forum at the Jamesville Dewitt Middle School in an attempt to share information with the residents most impacted by deer. The forum was an information sharing opportunity between these residents and the Town in an attempt to convey problems and realistic solutions. Representatives of lethal and non-lethal management were present. This forum was not heavily attended, but we received criticisms from attendees that advertisement was poor.
Early in 2017 some of the community members from the Deer Task Force aligned and began a grassroots effort. They sought guidance from Cornell Cooperative Extension and began going door-to-door garnering neighborhood support for their initiative. To date, they have collected over 500 residential signatures in support of a neighborhood cull and have begun conversations with private land owners to host a cull location. They have also drafted a management plan that was later adopted by the Town of DeWitt. This group calls themselves the DeWitt Neighborhood Deer Committee (DNDC).
The DNDC requested support for their efforts form the DeWitt Town Board on June 26, 2017. They coordinated several neighborhood planning meetings and hosted a public meeting at the Jamesville DeWitt Middle School on Tuesday, September 19, 2017. The DNDC again presented to the DeWitt Town Board on Monday, September 25th formally requesting the Town to adopt the management plan and implement proposed strategies this winter. The comments from the September 19th meeting were recorded and will be presented—along with the petition—to the DeWitt Town Board on Monday, October 23rd.