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Suffolk private nature sanctuary to pay for deer management study

An image taken from a trail camera shows

An image taken from a trail camera shows deer in Head of the Harbor on Aug. 17, 2018.  Credit: Avalon Park and Preserve

A private nature sanctuary in Head of the Harbor will pay the entire cost of a deer population management study many hope will alleviate an overabundance of white-tails in the area.

The $248,290 grant from Avalon Park and Preserve will fund a six-year study by The Humane Society of the United States and scientists from Tufts University. The agreement was signed March 12 by Mayor Douglas Dahlgard and Elizabeth Williamson, the sanctuary’s chief financial officer.

The study will test tools for using PZP, an immunocontraceptive vaccine, on female deer in the sanctuary and other parts of the village.

Those tools include dart-delivered doses of controlled-release vaccines, population estimating techniques and microchips and artificial intelligence to identify individual deer.

Deer eat area landscaping and tree leaves and are a vector for tick-borne disease. But they are a beloved part of the suburban landscape for some residents, who oppose hunting them. Village code prohibits discharge of firearms and bows in most cases.

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