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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Fort Thomas Residents Raise Funds for Deer Control Project

Does in Fort Thomas are healthy and fertile. Residents raised funds to pilot birth control program.

by Robin Gee

Whether you find them fun to watch or a menace on the roads, the deer population in Fort Thomas is here to stay and appears to be expanding every year.

Despite efforts to cull the population through a deer ordinance that prohibits feeding and allows bow hunting under certain circumstances, there is little evidence that the situation is under control.

"I do not think the current ordinance has reduced the deer population or the deer related traffic accidents. Study after study has shown that hunting may initially reduce the population but doesn’t work long term," said Council Member Lisa Kelly.

She went on to explain why many of these programs don’t work. "Bucks protect their territory and when they are hunted and killed, more from neighboring areas are then able to move into the territory that those bucks used to protect.

"These studies have shown that in hunted areas, the does have more access to food and are therefore healthier and more fertile, and they are increasingly giving birth to two or three does at a time and some instances even more. It’s a vicious cycle."

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Citizens take action

A group of Fort Thomas residents have taken matters into their own hands.

After researching the topic and looking into less traditional methods for deer population control, the group raised $5,500 to pilot a deer birth control project. A deer sterilization program is currently being tested in the Clifton neighborhood in Cincinnati. So far, results from the program have shown promise.

Kelly, who also has been studying the issue, explained how the proposed Fort Thomas program would work. "The deer are shot with a contraceptive dart that lasts two years. The dart leaves behind a dye so you are able to see which ones have been treated. It’s completely safe not only for the animals, but for humans as well.

"This is the same thing used to control wild horse populations with enormous success… Tufts University has done an immense amount of research on this topic, and it’s proven to be the safest and most humane form of deer population control with proven results."

A humane solution

Fort Thomas resident Beverly Erschell and other citizens took a proactive stance on the deer population issue.

Beverly Erschell of South Shaw Lane and group of about five residents came to the November Fort Thomas City Council meeting to present their plan and to offer more details on the program.

"The method we are advocating is a dart administered by a trained professional, which is marked and then retrieved," she said. "The shot lasts two years and is approved by the EPA. There are no adverse side effects to the deer or to anyone who consumes the meat afterward. It’s a protein, a nitrogenous organic compound. The cost is around $75 a deer plus initial equipment charges."

Erschell said the group has been in touch with Dr. Jean Pritchard and her staff at Fort Thomas Animal Hospital who have agreed to help with the program.

Fort Thomas resident Kathy McMahon addressed council as well with her concerns about the bow hunting program. She said she has seen deer in her neighborhood running with arrows stuck in their sides.

Sally Gaskins, a resident of Grand Lake, recounted an unfortunate incident a few weeks ago in which a deer shot by an arrow ran into a her residential complex and died on the sidewalk in full view of residents, including children. The hunter had shot the deer during hours of the day prohibited by the ordinance but had been in a permitted area.

A Fort Thomas Deer Contraceptive Program?

The group is asking the city to establish a deer contraceptive program fund that can take donations and possible city funds.

"We encourage a recommendation from council to use this $5,500 to begin the city’s involvement, which will include involvement by the city staff. It’s the humane action to take," said Erschell.

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Mayor Eric Haas, back to his first meeting since his heart attack, thanked the citizen group for their willingness to step up and do the research and leg work necessary, as well as to raise funding for their request. He said city staff will get in touch with the Clifton project staff to explore the matter further.

Council members Kelly, Ken Bowman and Roger Peterman all expressed a desire to explore the program and to commit city funds if it is proven successful.

"We’ve been hunting deer in town for nearly ten years, and it hasn’t worked. It’s time we listen to the experts who have seen measurable results utilizing the contraceptive method. It’s much safer for our community as a whole," said Kelly.


  1. I am all for any program to address the over population of deer. However, This is not similar to the Clifton project. The Clifton project tranquilizes the deer and then they are brought to a clinic to be sterilized which is a permanent solution for the deer.

  2. Dr. Millie Schafer, NIOSH/CDC RETIRED, will present DEER IMMUNOCONTRACEPTIVE METHODS at the regular meeting of MT. WASHINGTON COMMUNITY COUNCIL, Wed. Dec. 20, 2017, 7PM, REC CENTER, 1715 BEACON ST., CINTI., OH 45230. Certified deer darters will also be on hand to field pertinent questions. This is a public community meeting.