Non-Lethal Wildlife Management

“I’ve been doing this [killing deer] for 30 years and nothing has changed.” – Anthony DeNicola, White Buffalo, Inc.

Historically, wildlife management has meant one thing: killing. While this may be an effective short-term solution to the issue of wildlife and deer overpopulation, there have been successful strides in the industry that offer non-lethal, non-violent alternatives.

One such advancement is the implementation of wildlife contraceptives, fertility control, and sterilization. Birth control for animals may sound silly at first, but several cities across the country have successfully implemented this practice and seen a sustained reduction in deer populations without killing.

Education and prevention are long-term, peaceful, progressive solutions that don’t divide neighbors. Deer kill programs continue year after year because the population rebounds. Deer kill programs introduce weapons into our neighborhoods and cause friction among those who want deer killed on their property and those opposed.

Below are some concerns raised by the proposal to use lethal and violent methods to manage Iowa City’s native wildlife.

Killing is not an effective long-term, sustainable solution.

White Buffalo’s Tony DeNicola, who killed deer in Iowa City for 10 straight years stated at the City Deer Forum: “I’ve been doing this [killing deer] for 30 years and nothing has changed.” DeNicola also cited an example where the deer population tripled in size following a kill. 

Killing one deer will not prevent another deer from eating a plant or crossing the road. Killing deer is not a permanent solution. Learning ways to coexist is a permanent solution.

Sharpshooting is expensive and inaccurate.

A vital shot to the brain (the stated target) is nearly impossible unless the deer is resting or sleeping. The shot must be from in front of the deer and must go through thick skull bone to the deer’s three inch brain area. This article describes the limitations with all target locations.

We heard the report of someone who observed the horrific sharp shooting process from a neighboring property, and witnesses have seen video of the netting and sharpshooting of terrified deer at a bait station.

Sharpshooters favor lead shot, which is highly toxic to all wildlife.

While other options such as non-toxic copper bullets are available, it was emphasized during the City Deer Forum that the proposed wildlife management company uses lead shot. If an animal shot with lead is not retrieved and is fed on by other wildlife, the lead toxicity spreads into the environment and effects animals such as crows, vultures, and other carrion-feeders, resulting in lead poisoning and, most often, death.

Bow hunting is fraught with violations as unsupervised, unaccountable, inexperienced hunters move through neighborhoods at all hours of the day.

Both sharpshooting and bow hunting present numerous safety concerns for humans, domestic animals, and other wildlife. While city officials claim the parks will be closed should they decide to proceed with a hunt, there is no certain means of enforcing this.

Please visit our page on bow hunting to read an eyewitness account of the harmful effects of bow hunting in Cedar Rapids. Warning: the report contains graphic content.

The presence of guns in parks and neighborhoods can have a triggering effect on those living with PTSD.

During the City Deer Forum, a question was raised regarding the use of suppressors (i.e. silencers) on guns and rifles. While these devices do, as the name suggests, suppress the sound of a gun shot, they does not result in completely silencing the . The sound of gun fire within our parks and neighborhoods has the potential to trigger not only those suffering from the effects of PTSD, but to frighten and traumatize those living in fear of guns due to the unprecedented incidents of shootings occurring in schools, malls, concert venues, and countless other locations.

Please visit our Resources page to learn more about non-lethal, non-violent methods of wildlife management.