NIH Will Neuter Deer To Limit Population On Bethesda Campus

NIH Will Neuter Deer To Limit Population On Bethesda Campus

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The National Institutes of Health says its densely developed Bethesda campus is not a place for wildlife, though a large group of deer living on-site don’t seem to mind.

The NIH has decided to use non-lethal means — by anesthetizing and neutering adult female deer — to stop the current population of between 30 and 40 deer from reproducing.

The move, first reported by Bethesda Magazine, is detailed in the NIH Record:

For many NIH employees, the presence of white-tailed deer on the Bethesda campus is a welcome sight, offering a rural feel in our otherwise urban setting. For others, deer in the roadway blocking traffic, or worse yet, creating an accident threat is an unnecessary nuisance. During mating season, the risk to human safety is compounded when males tend to become more aggressive and reckless.

NIH says new fawns are born into the on-campus deer herd each year.
“With an average lifespan of 10-15 years, the deer’s health and wellbeing are in jeopardy, particularly due to nutritional deprivation,” read the story in the Record. “To continue doing nothing would not only be inhumane to the deer but also dangerous to the employees.”
Unlike Montgomery County, which allows managed deer hunts in selected parks with deer overpopulation, the NIH doesn’t allow hunting on campus.

So the best option was non-lethal, according to Dr. Alfred Johnson, director of NIH’s Office of Research Services.
“Over the next 4 years, starting this month, trained doctoral deer population control experts, in coordination with NIH veterinary staff, will anesthetize and neuter adult females. All local, state and federal requirements will be followed,” according to the Record.
The procedure will take 10-15 minutes, according to NIH and is “less invasive than spaying a cat or dog.”
Photo via NIH Record

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