Wed, Jun

Catalina Island Conservancy Abandons Helicopter Deer-Killing Plan After Public Outrage


ANIMAL WATCH - In Defense of Animals is celebrating a significant victory following the Catalina Island Conservancy's decision to abandon its plan to exterminate the island’s entire mule deer population using AR-15-style rifles from helicopters. This move comes in response to relentless public outcry from both residents and tourists of Catalina Island. Over 13,600 In Defense of Animals supporters wrote to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Governor Gavin Newsom, the California Fish and Game Commission, and District 42 Congressional Representative Robert Garcia, urging them to oppose the brutal plan.

While the conservancy remains intent on eliminating all deer from the island, it has reconsidered the aerial killing proposal and is now exploring previously dismissed alternatives, such as chemical sterilization and hunting permits.

A pivotal moment in this decision came when the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously opposed the aerial killing plan. Supervisor Janice Hahn led the effort by drafting a letter and gaining unanimous board support, reflecting public disdain for the proposed method.

Jack Gescheidt, a consultant with In Defense of Animals, welcomed the news but criticized the ongoing plan to exterminate the mule deer. “The Catalina Island Conservancy has dropped the helicopter shooting plan, but it remains committed to exterminating the island’s mule deer. This plan is a product of the restoration industry, which spends public money to eliminate species under the guise of conservation. There’s no scientific basis for harming these deer. They should be left alone.”

The conservancy argues that deer threaten native vegetation, but the mule deer have coexisted peacefully on the island for over a century. No third-party scientific studies validate the conservancy’s claims.

The conservancy's population estimates of 1,700-2,000 deer were based on a flawed 2021 survey. Residents estimate the population to be between 400 and 800 deer.

In Defense of Animals, alongside the Coalition to Save Catalina Island Deer, is pushing for a moratorium on any deer killing until scientific studies are conducted. They demand an accurate population count and a thorough study of the deer’s impact on the island’s vegetation.

“The Catalina Island Conservancy’s extermination campaign, costing taxpayers ten million dollars, lacks scientific corroboration,” said Gescheidt. “Thousands, including islanders and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, want to preserve Catalina Island’s mule deer.”

In Defense of Animals is an international animal protection organization based in Marin County, California, with over 250,000 supporters and a 40-year history of advocacy through education, campaigns, and hands-on rescue facilities worldwide. Visit In Defense of Animals for more information.  For more information, contact Jack Gescheidt at [email protected] or 415-488-4200.