SWAT Team to ambush deer in New York

Posted | By:  

With increasingly large populations of deer running around a small town in upper New York State, city leaders are turning to a novel measure to control the white-tailed menace. They have dropped a dime and are calling in the local SWAT team to put out a hit on bambi.

The town

Nestled inside Niagara County, New York (near the famous waterfalls of the same name) is the city of North Tonawanda. With a population of about 30,000, it's a small metropolitan area surrounded by dense forests. These woods were so thick at one point that North Tonawanda was known as the "Lumber City" due to the amount of trees that were felled and passed through the area.

It's served by a small police force, the NTPD, that has a capable SWAT unit.

Which is good because the city is currently under siege.

The problem

With a combination of decreased numbers of hunters in New York, eradication of traditional predators such as wolves, loss of habitat (remember all those trees cut down above), and the ever-growing reach of suburbia, there is an explosion of deer in the Empire State. Even with an army of deer hunters in the state (566,690 according to 2011 figures), some parts are still overrun.

Niagara County being one of them, with deer running through town regularly.

Now they may be pretty to look at, but they can also cause wrecks that are bad for all involved on both four legs and two. The city of North Tonawanda estimates that they have over 1000 deer inside the city limits. (Photo credit: Niagara Gazette)

(See that dark green to dark blue area to the left of the state, that's Niagara County)

Their solution

The state recommended ways to reduce deer include either: (a) letting nature take its course in which deer starve due to overpopulation and limited resources, (b) building fences and setting up feed plots away from populated area to supplement the outsized population, (c) trap and transfer deer to less populated areas at a cost of $400-$3200 per animal, (d) sterilize the population to limit growth at a cost of $1000 per animal, (e) reintroduce predators (i.e. wolves) to the area, or (f) bring in sharpshooters and take the gloves off.

With cost being a big problem for options B, C, and D, and no one really wanting to trade herds of deer for packs of wolves (what about the children!), its either let the poor things starve or bring in shooters.

Therefore, with that in mind, North Tonawanda dialed 911 and got its already-paid-for designated sharpshooters on the phone. And the good thing is, they already have their own camouflage.

The NTPD has a capable special response team as shown here from a 2013 Niagara Gazette image captioned "Members of the North Tonawanda/City of Tonawanda Police force SWAT team secure a home at 1922 Falls St. as they aided the Niagara Falls Emergency Response Team during a series of drug raids Tuesday"

Beginning this October, four carefully selected members of the NTPD's SWAT team will deploy to undisclosed locations around the city and cull the city's deer population in a series of controlled hunts over baited fields through March. The city tried this approach from 2004-2008 and harvested over 150 animals during that time. Following that cull the city saw fewer deer-related car accidents and calls for property damage over nuisance wildlife. However, it would seem now that the city now needs to return to the past practice.

We're not starting anything radical," said City Alderman Eric Zadzilka to the Niagara Gazette, "We're resuming what we did in the past. We were hearing a lot more complaints from residents in the last two years about property damage. That's what precipitated bringing this back."

The meat from the deer culled will be donated to local food banks.

What's your opinion on this? Is it just good target practice for the SWAT guys while reducing a local problem or should the city have explored other options? Let us know below.

Posted in
  Email   Print
April 3, 2014  •  07:26 PM
When oh when will this logic be applied to the bears marauding in rural neighborhoods and parks?!?
April 3, 2014  •  11:09 PM
I live about 20 minutes from North Tonawanda and I can tell you one thing...Decline in deer hunters is definitely not the problem...The problem is that when it's that time of the year, there isn't any public land to hunt on...It's all posted and the owners don't want anyone on their land because they either hunt it themselves and are greedy/weary of strangers, or they don't like hunters on their land period.

If you notice, the dark blue counties south of Niagara are the southern tier counties...This is where like 80% of my hunting friends go simply because there is land to hunt on..
April 4, 2014  •  12:26 AM
Why does a town of under 30,000 people look like a scene out of Iraq?....

Why are cops wearing marine corps issued camouflage and holding better rifles than an average marine who is actually IN combat?...

What a disgrace.
April 4, 2014  •  04:43 PM

North Tonawanda is a fairly affluent area, as opposed to Tonawanda. They are notorious for traffic stops and writing tickets, if they are pleaded down, the money goes to the town. The surplus of money and the "nothing going on" atmosphere is great for appearances. They have new police cruisers, the latest equipment, and so on and so forth.
April 5, 2014  •  04:10 PM
When the precieved problem was banks losing money due to he large number of forcloseures, the solution was to give money to the banks. Why wasn't the same money given to the people to pay their mortgages? Here the precieved problem is too many deer, and the solution is to let the police hunt them. Why not just allow anyone to take deer in a special open season? This would bring untold dollars into the community, as well as solve the excess deer problem. Once again the people are totally left out of the loop.
April 5, 2014  •  06:33 PM

Ya know, I said something similar when I was 17...Western NY has been doing deer bait and shoots for years. When I was still in High School, I thought to myself..."Why not just open a lottery season that allows the winners to take X number of deer within the time allotted, and up the price a bit?" That would bring in some money as well as take care of the deer problem.

Hell, we hate Canadian Geese...do you know what we did to fix it? We opened three Canadian Goose seasons...
April 6, 2014  •  04:19 PM
Do they also wear the bacalava over the face when they hunt, What's up with the wearing of those things in police forces anyway?
April 6, 2014  •  07:43 PM

Well, that's the S.W.A.T. team...shock and awe tactics and it helps protect their identity during raids.