STATEN ISLAND — Hundreds of deer would be sterilized in a three-year program proposed as a way to curb the animals' population boom on Staten Island.
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Tuesday that neutering male white-tailed deer over a three-year period could potentially reduce the population by 10 to 30 percent.
"We are moving ahead with a plan to manage the impacts of the deer population on Staten Island in a way that is smart, effective and humane," de Blasio said in a statement.
"With a multifaceted approach that includes sterilization, education and the protection of natural resources, we’re confident this is the best plan to ensure the safety and happiness of Staten Islanders who have been affected by the growing deer population."
Aside from sterilization, the city also plans to use other non-lethal methods of dealing with the animals including public education about living with deer to reduce car crashes and tick-borne illnesses, traffic safety measures like extra signage and to add deer-resistive plantings to the borough.
"There’s no denying the spike in our deer population, just as there’s no denying the spike in concerns around Lyme Disease," Borough President James Oddo said in a statement.
"No one wants to see the wanton destruction of these animals, but to ignore the problems — not only tick-borne diseases, but ecological devastation and the inevitable clash between vehicles and deer — would be irresponsible."
The deer population in Staten Island has exploded recently, with an aerial survey done by the Parks Department in 2014 finding 763 of the animals in the borough — up from just 24 in 2008.
The city thinks the animals swam over from New Jersey and the population boomed because they have no natural predators in the city.
Community boards, elected officials and residents have called on the city to develop a management plan for the animals, which the city convened a task force to develop.
Last year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released a long-awaited, 157-page report on managing white-tailed deer in New York state that listed several lethal and non-lethal methods that could be used.
After the plan was released, animal rights groups criticized the lethal methods, with one starting a petition to save the deer that got 448 signatures.
"We applaud Mayor de Blasio for his humane leadership and forward-thinking approach on wildlife management issues," Wayne Parcelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, said in a statement.
"We hope other jurisdictions will follow New York City's lead in recognizing that integrated, non-lethal management methods are not only humane but can also be more economical and sustainable ways of managing deer and other wildlife in our urban and suburban areas."
The city's deer management plan needs to be approved by Comptroller Scott Stringer's office and the state's Department of Environmental Conservation before it can implement it. If approved, the city hopes to start sterilization in the fall.