By Kathryn G. Menu
When it comes to deer and the ticks they carry, the Village of North Haven will not fund or erect any 4-Poster tick management devices on its own for now. But during another contentious village board of trustees meeting last Wednesday night, the board said it would consider allowing private residents to place the devices on their properties, if the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) allows it.
On Wednesday, November 7, in the midst of a nor’easter, North Haven resident Dr. Josephine DeVincenzi — an ardent supporter of the Village of North Haven implementing a 4-Poster tick management system, which she says will curb tick populations in the village — implored the board to reconsider a decision it made last month. In October, the village board said it would look to aggressively cull the deer population in North Haven rather than use 4-Poster devices, citing environmental concerns and the financial burden of implementing the program.
A 4-Poster device is a duel feeding station which forces deer to rub up against applicator rollers treated with the tickicide permethrin as they feed. The permethrin is then transferred to other parts of the body when the deer grooms itself.
From 2007 to 2010, Shelter Island studied the impact of the 4-Poster tick abatement system. While those opposed to the concept in North Haven have argued there is little information to show how successful it is at combating tick borne illness, Shelter Island officials and the DEC say drag tests performed by Cornell Cooperative Extension showed a significant decline in ticks on the island.
Peter Boody, the editor of The Shelter Island Reporter and a North Haven resident, has been another advocate for the implementation of a 4-Poster program in North Haven.
Last month, North Haven Village board member Jeff Sander said the board believes if it culls the village deer herd significantly, it will be able to reduce tick populations without the concern about the environmental impact concentrated doses of permethrin could have on the environment.
Last Wednesday night, DeVincenzi came to the meeting armed with every article written in The Shelter Island Reporter since 2004 about the 4-Poster programs there. At a two-hour forum in May 2006, DeVincenzi noted two scientists from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) addressed issues like the toxicity of permethrin and, according to DeVincenzi, said it was “less toxic than fabric softener and more targeted a solution than spraying” pesticides.
DeVincenzi noted many residents, including her neighbor Chris Gangemi, are concerned about the amount of pesticide spraying occurring in North Haven to combat ticks. While board members have argued the permethrin used on the 4-Poster devices is in a concentrated form, and toxic to the point where licensed individuals are required to administer the tickicide to the devices, DeVincenzi argued spraying has a larger impact on the environment because it is not targeted.
She said she believes residents, many like her who spend upwards of $1,800 annually in spraying, would happily reapply that money towards the implementation of a 4-Poster program.
Mayor Laura Nolan sharply questioned the effectiveness of the 4-Poster program, stating the data simply did not show it was truly as effective as the DEC or Cornell Cooperative Extension has led people to believe.
“It was a lot of money on Shelter Island,” she added.
“That is because they are 11-acres,” replied DeVincenzi. “We are 2.6-acres.”
She added there are studies from across the Northeast that she believes show how effective the devices has been.
Sander said he did not believe residents support the village taking on the initiative.
“Then let’s put a referendum up,” said DeVincenzi.
“It’s a consideration we have had to put this up for public referendum,” said Nolan. “We are thinking about this. It’s not that we are being inactive.”
Nolan said at a recent meeting of the East End supervisors and mayors, she was not alone in her skepticism.
Sander said the only way he believed this would go through in North Haven is with private funds and on private property.
DeVincenzi urged the board to apply for a DEC permit so at the very least that would be a possibility.
“We are considering the village could be a vehicle to have the permit if there were private properties willing to purchase the mechanisms, pay for the costs, pay for the professional licensed applicator, pay for the maintenance, pay for everything,” said Nolan. “We are considering that if the DEC allows that.”