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Syracuse TV News shows Net & Bolt deer killing (documented by SHARK)

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Deer kill method stirs debate in Cayuga Heights
by Jim Kenyon
Posted: 12.03.2010 at 5:40 PM

CAYUGA HEIGHTS -- A controversial method of killing deer has stirred an emotional debate in the Tompkins County village of Cayuga Heights.

Cayuga Heights is a picturesque and affluent community just outside the City of Ithaca. Officials say the village has a big problem with deer. They estimate there are up to 200 deer living in a village of just 1.8 square miles.

Instead of being afraid of people, Mayor Kate Supron says the deer raid local gardens, endanger pets and have become a traffic hazard. "There are people who say the deer were here first, but we live in a managed eco-system." Supron explained, "Therefore when it gets out of balance, we have to manage the ecosystem and we just have too many deer."

Cayuga Heights has come up with a deer management program. It calls for capturing and sterilizing 20 to 60 doe and then killing the rest. The Village is considering the possibility of hiring sharpshooters, but the state DEC has offered another alternative slaughtering method called "net and bolt."

Opponents have circulated a video of the method. It shows deer being lured to bait, when suddenly the blast of a rocket propelled net traps them. A short while later, several people show up to slaughter the deer through the use of a bolt gun.

The net and bolt technique has stirred emotion among opponents to the deer management plan including local author Ann Druyan. "To shoot a steel rod through the brain while they're struggling for life seems to me to be completely brutal and unwanted." Druyan told CNY Central's Jim Kenyon.

Supron says the Village Board hasn't decided on any method yet "When you're killing an animal, it's not going to be pretty whether you're shooting it or using a captive bolt gun." Supron said.

Druyan fears what the deer kill could do to the character of the community. "That's one of the reasons I love living in Ithaca," says the wife of the late astrophysicist Carl Sagan, "Generally it's an oasis of kindness and regard for life."

The debate will heighten on Monday evening when the village holds a public hearing on its draft environmental impact statement. The crowd, both for and against the deer management plan, is expected to pack the elementary school auditorium.

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