White-tailed deer on Staten Island

If you’re not familiar, Staten Island is one of the NYC boroughs. It’s physically larger than Manhattan but the population is just a fraction, resulting in a lot of open space. And into that space white-tailed deer have been multiplying. It’s a real problem, given the damage that deer can incur:

As a result, the United States now has over 30 million white-tailed deer, much more densely populated than they ever were before Europeans arrived. Unchecked by wolves, cougars, and bears, the herds wreak havoc: a 2012 Rutgers University study alleges that white-tailed deer are responsible for most of the $4.5 billion worth of crops that US agriculture loses to wildlife annually; they account for three to four thousand car collisions a day. New Jersey alone had 31,192 deer collisions from 2011 to 2012. Unchecked by predators or hunters, only starvation will limit population growth.

The irony is that at one time, white-tailed deer were almost completely wiped out by settlers. When the first Europeans arrived the population was estimated at over 24 million. By the end of the 19th century, that number was down to 350,000. Buy thanks to conservation efforts, that number has grown to the 30 million mentioned above. Unfortunately, those deer are crowded into a small fraction of their original range due to the expanding human population. The accidents and crop damage are the inevitable result.

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