CINCINNATI -- Is there a way to control the deer population without killing them? This group hopes so.
The Clifton Deer Fertility Control Pilot Program is Cincinnati's first non-lethal deer control program, according to its website. Volunteers at the non-profit tranquilize and sterilize female deer. Then, deer are given a long-acting pain medication and returned to an area close to where they were captured.
"They think and they feel," Christine Lottman, the program's co-creator, said. "We wanted to see if there were ways of curbing (the deer population) without having to cull deer either with bow and arrows or guns."
Lottman and Robert Rack started the program in 2015. Since then, they've sterilized 51 does.
In the program's first year, the deer population decreased by 16 percent.
"That even surprised us," Lottman said. "It looks like it's going to be successful. We're hoping to see the data from year two, three, four and five. Then we'll know for sure."
The program is limited, however, due to its high cost.
"It's expensive," Lottman said. "It's new technology."
The Humane Society of the United States said sterilization costs between $500 and $1,000 per deer.
"If we can get locals trained and ready, then the cost will go down significantly," Lottman said.
Similar programs were proposed and/or implemented in New York, New Jersey, California and Michigan.
One downside to sterilization, the humane society said, is that it can result in serious injury or death of some deer. In Ann Arbor, one of the 54 does sterilized in February was in distress after the surgery. It was later euthanized.