Niagara Gazette

Local News

March 1, 2014

Bait-and-shoot back in North Tonawanda to control surging deer population

Niagara Gazette — North Tonawanda will bring back a bait-and-shoot program it used for four years beginning in 2004 that common council members say was necessary to tackle a resurgent deer population. 

As in the past, the program will be conducted by four of the city police department's SWAT team members between October and March in two undisclosed locations. Residents have routinely lodged complaints to the council about a steady presence of the animals in the Lumber City that many say have caused damage to property and hazards on area roadways. 

A New York State Department of Environmental Conservation study sited over the summer by the council indicated the city held a population of about 1,000 deer within its borders through 2004, with a growing suburban presence in northern Niagara County possible pushing those numbers up in North Tonawanda, a city with an abundance of wooded areas. 

The council had briefly considered the novel technique of using birth control to reign in an apparent population burst in the city, though at a cost of about $1,000 for each sterilization process the idea was nixed, according to Third Ward Alderman Eric Zadzilka. 

Instead, the success of the bait-and-shoot program used from 2004 to 2008 led to the council keeping the status quo.

"We're not starting anything radical," Zadzilka said. "We're resuming what we did in the past.  We were hearing a lot more complaints from residents in the last two years about property damage. That's what precipitated bringing this back."  

Council President Russ Rizzo said he believed the previously used technique worked well, while council members are still unsure why the program was not continued in the first place though it appears the program was unofficially discontinued by former police Chief Randy Szukala. 

Current Police Chief William Hall said from 2004 to 2005 the force killed 154 deers with 46, 13 and 28 disposed of respectively in three subsequent years. 

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