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Neighbors try to block Vassar Farm deer cull

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Albany/HV: Neighbors try to block Vassar Farm deer cull
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A group of neighbors who live near Vassar College's farm and ecological preserve are trying to block a planned deer cull in court, but time is quickly running out on the deer and their appeal. YNN's John Wagner has the details.

TOWN OF POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. -- Unless the state court of appeals rules Monday on behalf of around 50 deer, Vassar College can begin baiting and sharpshooting the animals on Vassar Farm. A lawsuit put forth by neighbors claims the state should require the college to complete an environmental review.

"Even now at this 11th hour, we're thinking of ways to prevent it and we're not giving up," said Poughkeepsie resident Carola Maderid.

"Why are they wiping out the wildlife that belongs to all of us? They don't have the right to do it, much less the ethical basis," said Marcy Schwartz, founder of the group "Save our Deer."

Vassar College says, without regular deer culls, the future of their forest and the farm's ecological diversity is threatened. Beyond that, they say the animals are adding to the neighborhoods number of tick borne diseases and car accidents.

"All this money they're spending, they could feed the deer all year long to keep them away from what they don't want them to nibble at," said Poughkeepsie resident Joan Svenson. "They could build a fence for what they pay for this."

College officials say all alternatives have been considered, including contraception, trapping and transferring, and fencing--but in the end, using sharpshooters, they say, is the only legal and practical method available to keep the deer from decimating saplings in their woods. Some neighbors call that stance unbelievable.

"Since the population is less than half of what it used to be, how can they say this is a problem?" questioned Svenson.

The DEC has issued Vassar a permit and the college says Poughkeepsie has given them no indication their plans would violate any town ordinances. The deer may have no natural predators, but their clock is ticking.

"Nobody's ever bothered them before, so i'm really surprised that their only predator has turned out to be a college," said neighbor Susan Macintosh.

Unless court rules otherwise, Vassar plans to manage the deer population every few years as needed. Opponents say, if they lose this battle, they will be back next time with a stronger case.

For more information

Vassar College will not comment as to when and where the cull may take place. To see the reasons behind the deer cull, visit farm.vassar.edu/activities/management/deer/.

To learn more about the Save our Deer group, visit saveourdeer.webs.com/faq.htm.

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