Ithaca, N.Y. — The results of a Cornell effort launched a few years ago to curtail the deer population on and around campus has attracted the attention of The Washington Post.

The Washington, D.C., publication chronicled how Cornell’s deer emerged as a problem for the university and led to a forced sterilization plan.

“The result was something that nobody anticipated,” The Post’s report said.

Essentially, though the sterilization effort did reduce the number of pregnant does, it inadvertently also increased the number of bucks in the area.

From the story:

Initially, the results looked promising: The birth rate went down. Yet the total number of deer remained steady over five years. Something strange was going on.

“Sterilization definitely did decrease fawn numbers, and doe numbers also declined,” Curtis said. “However, these population reductions were offset by increasing buck numbers. There were about 100 deer on campus when we started, and there were still about 100 deer [five years later].”

Something was attracting an abnormal number of mature bucks. Cornell’s biologists realized that the reproductive cycle of the ligated does was to blame…

By preventing pregnancy in does, Cornell had accidentally invented a population of buck magnets that regularly drew in new deer from the surrounding area.

You can read the full Washington Post story here.

Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.