SWAT Team to ambush deer in New York
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.
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.
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)
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.