Wildlife populations in nature reserves, such as the Oostvaardersplassen and the dunes west of Amsterdam, are kept down by hunting and every year thousands of animals are shot.
A group of wildlife vets now want to conduct an experiment in which they will sterilise fallow deer. If given the green light, the experiment will be a world-first, Nieuwsuur said.
‘Shooting pregnant deer is certainly not my preference,’ vet Michiel Hoynck van Papendrecht told the broadcaster. ‘This is a much more civilised way of keeping the population in check, particularly in closed areas.’
The experiment will take place on the 90 hectare island of De Haringvreter in the province of Zeeland which is home to some 450 fallow deer. The Zeeland provincial authorities, who own the island, have already said they would favour sterilisation over a cull.
‘We have a huge surplus of fallow deer every year. Last year the population grew to 700 and Staatsbosbeheer hunters had to shoot 350. Hunting is not my preference because it’s a never-ending story,’ Anita Pijpelink, who is in charge of the province’s nature management, said.
Ten out of a group of 20 fallow deer will be sterilised while the other ten will function as a control group. All will be carrying a transmitter. ‘It’s a unique experiment and the world will be watching’, ecologist Martijn Weterings said. ‘We are particularly curious to see if there will be a difference in acceptance of the females. Will they go down in rank, do the younger females take over the reproductive role?’
Hunters are calling the experiment ‘a synthetic way of nature management’ and ‘a total nonsense’.
‘Only a very few people object to hunting and 95% love a bit of game. We’re talking about the most natural environment friendly meat that you can get,’ Laurens Hoedemakers from national hunting association Koninklijke Jagersvereniging told the broadcaster.
The sterilisation programme is scheduled for the spring, if approved following an assessment of the legal implications.
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