By Alex DeMetrick

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Spaying to control the population of domesticated animals is being given a try in the wild.  As Alex DeMetrick reports, the target are deer who share space with people.

From bows to bullets, hunters target deer for meat and sport, but National Resources managers rely on hunters to control a massive deer population.

“Without question, hunting remains the most effective management tool,” said Paul Peditto, director of DNR Wildlife & Heritage.

But those looking for non-lethal population control turned to tranquilizer darts in an experiment near Loch Raven Reservoir, where 32 female deer were spayed.  It was a 20-minute procedure that released deer back into the wild who cannot reproduce.

“Even if they only had one fawn each, that’s 32 fawn that won’t be born,” said Enid Feinberg, Wildlife Rescue Inc.

Contraceptive darts have been tried before in Maryland but they must be administered once a year.  It takes money and time to control reproduction.

“It certainly has its practical limitations,” Peditto said.

“We really wanted to bring something to suburban communities where weapons and guns and bows and arrows aren’t appropriate in neighborhoods,” Feinberg said.

DNR agrees hunting is not always an option, especially when deer live so close to people, so spaying will be studied. 

The spaying research is being paid for with private money on private land.

Comments (5)
  1. Stacey V-AwarenessHelps Citraro says:

    Glad to hear humane methods of control are being considered. |

  2. ED says:

    This would have been a positive story if the WJZ producers didn’t use dead deer photos and hunters for visuals. It was amateurish to not concentrate on the positive impact this program could have in neighborhoods where we do not want armed men in camoflaque murdering animals. As DNR said hunting is not always an option so why didn’t concentrate on the positives. I just went to and found a lot more information than you touched on. You wasted a great opportunity to really help the public!

  3. Zac says:

    There are many options but they all cost money. People won’t pay money for police or fire departments so I find it difficult to believe people would support the extreme expensive of spaying thousands of deer. As stated hunting is the best control. People to need to be educated about hunting and have a better understanding of how it truely is part of nature and the natural food chain. I love animals to but we have to respect nature and what has been going on for millions of years.

  4. Signtopia says:

    Why not just let hunters do what they do and encourage them to donate the deer meat to feed the homeless?