SAN JOSE — A gated California senior community overrun by deer has decided to sterilize the critters.

The deer population has doubled in two years to a herd of 170 at The Villages in the San Jose foothills. The 1,200-acre development has 4,000 residents.

The deer are no longer intimidated by people and they are sometimes aggressive, including making attacks on dogs, according to Darren Shaw, the development's general manager. Additionally, Shaw said the deer destroy about $150,000 worth of landscaping each year.

The San Jose Mercury News ( ) says the wildlife management company White Buffalo is tranquilizing and spaying the does in a mobile medical lab each night through Feb. 4.

The company said nonlethal management techniques like sterilization are not always financially practical, but the deer at the Villages live within a fenced area that makes capturing them easier.

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife approved the sterilization plan, which also received support from some wildlife rescue groups.

Rebecca Dmytryk of Wildlife Emergency Services said sterilization may be the best way to manage the deer, but it is not an easy process.

"(Deer are) dangerous to themselves and other people, and when they get scared they panic," Dmytryk told the newspaper. "They will fight or flee to save their lives even if it kills them."

While sterilization is commonly used as a nonlethal means for managing deer, some of the animals can be unintentionally killed in the process, said Anthony DeNicola of White Buffalo.

The Humane Society of the United States is studying whether the organization will condone the technique as a non-lethal way to control deer populations.

And not everyone at the Villages supports the plan, saying the deer lived there long before people.

"The deer were here first, it's their country," resident James Nielsen said. "These people are trying to get rid of its natural inhabitants."


Information from: San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News,

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