Facing an excess population of deer at its Bethesda, Maryland campus, the National Institutes of Health is turning to a birth-control program.
Over the next four years, “trained doctoral deer population control experts,” in coordination with NIH’s own veterinary staff, will anesthetize and sterilize adult females, according to an article in the December issue of the organization’s NIH Record publication. NIH said it will adhere to local, state and federal requirements regarding this effort.
“This 10-15 minute, non-lethal solution—less invasive than spaying a cat or dog—has been effectively enacted in the City of Fairfax, Virginia and other locales around the country,” the article said.
NIH said its campus could sustain a herd of 26 deer. But, the current population, with the birth of many new fawns this year, is estimated to be 30 to 40. ” With an average lifespan of 10-15 years, the deer’s health and well-being are in jeopardy, particularly due to nutritional deprivation,” the article said. The article noted that NIH does not permit hunting on campus. ‘There are no known non-human predators (except a rare bear!),’ it said. NIH told CQ RollCall that as of Dec. 16, two-dozen female deer had been spayed.