By Tessa Raebeck
The small crowd gathered at the North Haven Village Board meeting Tuesday agreed that the community needs to take action to address deer and tick management, but there was general uncertainty about the best means of doing so.
“It’s a very difficult problem to address,” said North Haven Mayor Jeff Sander, who updated the board on deer — and therefore tick — management. “We talked about a number of options to control the tick and deer problem in North Haven, of which the committee that we had over the winter recommended significantly culling the herd.”
The village is continuing its dialogue with the suburban deer management group, White Buffalo, Inc. who made a presentation about professional organized cull and sterilization of deer during August’s North Haven Village Board meeting.
“We do plan to do some targeted culling in the winter with some of the funds we set aside,” said Sander. The proposed controlled hunt — an open cull — would likely happen during two two-week periods in January and February, he said.
In the meantime, North Haven will continue the tradition of seasonal bow and arrow hunting during deer season, which starts October 1 and lasts about three months. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), which regulates the hunting season, will aid North Haven Village in managing the hunting season this year, according to North Haven Village Clerk Georgia Welch.
Hunters are restricted from going within 500 feet of any occupied dwelling, but individual homeowners can opt to permit hunting on their property.
“We’re assisting the DEC and getting the property owners who want to be involved,” said Welch.
In addition to culling the deer population, Sander said, “We also recommended we consider 4-Poster because of its success on Shelter Island.”
Four-Poster devices, which have been present on Shelter Island since 2007, lure deer to a feeding station where the acaricide permethrin is rolled along the animals’ necks and backs while they feed, effectively killing any ticks that come into contact with the deer.
According to Sander, New York State is considering approving funding for 4-Poster devices on Shelter Island and in North Haven. If approved, the 4-Poster deployment in North Haven would start in March and continue through the summer.
“In the next budget session in June, we would consider adding funds for the continuation of the 4-Poster and possible sterilization,” said Sander.
North Haven Village resident Richard Gambino questioned the effectiveness and environmental impact of 4-Poster devices.
“Tick control by dealing with deer is totally ineffective,” he argued, referencing several articles and academic studies. “Therefore, 4-Posters are ineffective.”
“At this point, 4-Posters are just expensive and environmentally damaging,” Gambino continued. “This is a very serious problem, I’m not trying to minimize it. I’m just saying that the 4-Posters are no way to deal with it.”
Josephine DeVincenzi, a North Haven resident who has been working to raise awareness about at-home ways to prevent tick-borne illnesses and has long been an advocate for the implementation of 4-Poster devices, asked the board to also focus on prevention through routine maintenance.
“Any leaf litter that we have in this community is really a public health hazard,” she said, maintaining that such waste is a breeding ground for ticks.
“I know that 90 percent of our roads are private,” continued DeVincenzi. “But I hope that the board would consider working with private associations and asking them to consider helping us get the leaf litter out of this community, because it is one of the ways that we’re encouraging ticks.”
DeVincenzi advised that residents distance woodpiles and leaf litter from their houses, as both can breed white-footed mice and other small rodents that harbor ticks..
In addition to researching deer and tick management options, Sander is also taking action to combat the prevalence of helicopters flying into the East Hampton Airport, and over North Haven Village.
“I wrote a letter to [Senator Charles] Schumer and [Congressman Tim] Bishop at the request of some of the groups that have been involved in this, urging them to have the FAA [Federal Aviation Association] specify routes that would have the helicopters go over the ocean,” Sander told the board.
Sander sent copies of his letter to East Hampton Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson and Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst.
In her reply, according to Sander, Throne-Holst included a map that outlined the flight paths of helicopters.
“A significant number of them are flying right over North Haven,” said Sander. “This really irritated me.”
“This is a real problem,” he continued. “And I plan to continue to raise concern to East Hampton and as many of the village officials as I can. It’s a serious thing and we’ll do what we can.”
Sander lamented the lack of recourse for pilots who deter from the accepted flight paths and argued that the Town of East Hampton should maintain control over the airport, rather than the FAA, to enable the town to control the airport’s hours of operation and the frequency of flights.
“It’s a real serious problem too, I think, for the whole East End,” he concluded.
The board is also in the midst of assessing the lighting design at North Haven Village Hall, contemplating moving forward on an energy saving program by LIPA that is subcontracted to Lion Energy, which sent a representative to North Haven in August. With the aim of preserving energy and reducing long term costs and maintenance, the plan would switch the village’s incandescent light bulbs with energy efficient bulbs.
“About a third of our energy bill would be saved, which is astounding,” said Welch.
LIPA would pay for about two-thirds of the conversion. The cost would be about $7,000, with the village footing the bill for $2,111.92 to pay for the conversion.
“We’ll get that back in probably a few years,” continued Welch, who said that the conversion has been popular in other municipalities.
From the audience, Gambino told Welch that the new light bulbs contain mercury, calling the chemical “a deadly toxic.”
Sander asked Welch to acquire further information about mercury content from the Lion Energy representative and agreed to address the topic at the next board meeting.
In other board news, Laura Hildreth was again hired as file clerk as an independent contractor.
Drew Bennett, the village’s engineering consultant, was reappointed as the planning board engineer, as well as engineer for special projects for the village.
A public hearing on the new fire contract with the Sag Harbor Volunteer Fire Department, which totals $373,212.55, will be held on October 1 at 5 p.m.