There are some darling mascots along the golf course and roadways of Fripp Island, South Carolina. Island Deer are a smaller variety of our common White-tailed deer and are protected in gated communities like Fripp Island.
But with that protection also brings challenges. Growing deer populations and distracted drivers have lead to an increase in collisions, so it was time that these communities began a management system. Starting about 15 years ago, these communities began a culling system that helped reduce the herds. The deer are hunted late at night with experienced shooters with sound-suppressed rifles, and the meat is then donated to food banks.
This deer population reduction program has been effective and the number of car-deer collisions have reduced. There are those that feel that a better way to reduce the herd is through contraception. Fripp Island experimented with this technique for six years and saw a 50% reduction in the deer population. Using dart guns, they shot the female deer with the contraceptive known as PZP. However, this program was discontinued as PZP was not federally approved.
As a nature lover and photographer, this issue certainly brings lots of questions and we all know that there is never quite the right answer. There are concerns with using contraceptives as a form of herd management. But then, the culling method proved to be well managed and provided sustenance to those in need. After all as humans, do we not herd cattle? Hold flocks of chickens for our food supply?
For now, it seems that the smaller gated communities are doing a decent job with herd management, but in the long run what program is used should be sustainable.