Don’t Shut Door of 4-Posters
The North Haven Village Board pretty much closed the door Tuesday, October 2, on giving serious consideration to using a deer-feeding device called the 4-poster — well known on Shelter Island, which has been deploying them since 2008 — to break the life cycle of deer ticks and lone star ticks. Their populations appear to have crashed in many parts of the Island.
Culling the herd, which has been village policy for about a decade, is important. It should be continued. But why does the board think something it has been doing for years — something that hasn’t solved the tick problem — will suddenly work wonders?
The board’s answer: push the culling program more aggressively.
That sounds good — but reducing the herd to such a low level that it truly shrinks the tick population significantly is a practical impossibility. As the village itself has discovered lately, the herd keeps growing even though nuisance hunting and car hits have been killing deer pretty effectively these days. Just how much more aggressive can the village make the hunt? And can it sustain that level of kill rates for years?
All anecdotal evidence suggests Shelter Island no longer has the kind of tick problem North Haven does. Shouldn’t that fact alone inspire North Haven residents and their elected officials to look into the 4-poster with a more open mind?
All the debate arising now in North Haven over the use of the 4-poster took years to play out on Shelter Island before 4-posters were deployed there. Now, with a handful of exceptions, there is no one campaigning against their use on the Island. It’s a popular program. That’s why the Town Board there has voted unanimously to continue the program and plans to expand it in 2013 to assure its effectiveness.
Deer are tick magnets because deer are their primary hosts. That’s why birds and rodents aren’t nearly as significant in the tick life cycle. The ticks congregate on the deers’ heads and necks: it’s common for ticks to be packed in at 45 per square inch, a disgusting sight to behold. Kill those ticks for three years straight, which a well-managed 4-poster program can do, and you’ll see a crash in North Haven’s local tick population.
I appreciate North Haven’s concerns. Cost, funding sources, placement, effect on deer behavior and the environmental risks of permethrin are serious issues. They should be fully explored. But why doesn’t it seem to matter to our board that Shelter Island has been there and done that? The Cornell and state DEC scientists who oversaw the three-year 4-poster test on the Island found no problems as a result of congregating deer; no permethrin in the water supply; and no more permethrin (a trace amount) in deer meat from Shelter Island than has been found in the test’s control site, North Haven.
That’s a striking, important fact that no one on the Village Board seems to know or have processed.
The door just should not be slammed shut on an option that has worked so well on Shelter Island, with none of the dreaded consequences a handful of critics are predicting. Broadcast spraying and common use of permethrin-based products — there are many of them; permethrin is virtually all over the place — introduces far more of the chemical into the environment than does the highly targeted 4-poster, even with its relatively high concentration.
From the stony silence at the last village meeting of two board members, and the legitimate concerns well expressed by the three others, I get the feeling the door is locked and our elected officials will treat any further public debate on the topic as an unavoidable distraction.
I am troubled by that. I live in North Haven but I’ve put in about a decade editing the newspaper on Shelter Island. Having covered the topic for years, I have been converted to the 4-poster cause. Those Islanders are not all loonies and their 4-poster program shouldn’t be written off as some bizarre, dangerous aberration, which I sense is how our Village Board thinks of it.
Top of the Line
Recently, while mowing my lawn, I slipped and fell. I was alone in my backyard and could not get up. My wife returned home shortly and I still had a problem getting up. She called emergency, and in no time flat they were there, both the police and the ambulance corps. They got me up, and took me to the hospital for tests (all negative, thankfully). I cannot begin to say how grateful I am for the rapid, considerate, and gentle help I received from these wonderful individuals. They are truly “top of the line.”
Very truly yours,
James D. Tripp
Thanks for Support
On behalf of the officers and congregation of the Old Whalers’ Church, I would like to thank all who supported our recent “Whalers’ Bucks Raffle.” Proceeds from the raffle were shared with the Community House Fund at the Old Whalers’ Church and the Sag Harbor Community Food Pantry.
The response from the community was tremendous. Without the support of so many, we would not have been able to meet our goal. We were able to award the full amount of the prizes and support two local causes at the same time.
So to all who purchased tickets, attended the cocktail party on September 29 or made donations of money or goods, we owe a tremendous amount of gratitude.
Very sincerely yours,
Rev. Mark F. Phillips
First Presbyterian “Old Whalers” Church