By Kathryn G. Menu
Over a year ago, residents of North Haven seeking a solution to the growing epidemic of tick borne illnesses plaguing them filled village hall looking for help.
Next Tuesday, trustees hope to take a concrete step towards doing just that.
During the regular monthly meeting of the North Haven Village Board on Tuesday, August 5 at 5 p.m. trustees will present the community with its deer management report.
The report, compiled by an ad hoc committee formed last year amidst calls for deer and tick abatement, suggests methods for effective ways to reduce the deer herd in the village.
The secondary goal is aimed at reducing the incidence of tick populations, and therefore tick borne illnesses — an issue North Haven Mayor Jeff Sander said this week has evolved into an epidemic that can no longer be ignored.
Sander, who led the committee in its research, noted that while looking at methods of deer population control such as birth control, trap and relocate and fencing were explored, ultimately research pointed to two effective methods — culling a deer herd and reducing of the density of ticks through the use of the 4-Poster program.
The 4-Poster program was studied on Shelter Island over a three-year period and government officials there laud it as being successful in reducing tick populations.
According to the findings in the report, deer herd reduction is seen as an effective tool, with numerous studies showing that deer are in fact the primary host for tick breeding and when a herd is reduced substantially, so is the tick population.
The advantages, notes the report, is that 4-Poster is not only an effective method at reducing ticks, but also low cost. Issues with a large cull of the deer herd include humane issues, and the fact the North Haven herd would need to be reduced to 10 animals per square mile, or between 25 and 30 deer. A 2013 aerial count estimated 104 deer in the village.
Other concerns include the fact that hunting seasons are limited as are areas open to hunting.
While considered effective, issues with implementing a 4-Poster deer management program — according to the report — are that it would not reduce the deer population, and therefore car accidents and property damage caused by deer. It would also cost approximately $240,000 to $250,000 annually to implement.
According to the report, North Haven would need about 40 stations to effectively cover the village and most of those would need to be on private land due to the need for cooperation of homeowners. Using 4-Poster would also limit hunting, notes the report.
“To effectively implement either of the options we would need support from the North Haven community,” notes the report.
A full copy of the report and its recommendations can be viewed on the village’s website www.northhavenny.us.
Since releasing the report last month, Sander said he has had many residents express interest in the village addressing the deer and tick populations, including homeowner groups who he has met with privately.
“In general, although it is by no means a statistical sample, people are in favor of increasing the cull to reduce the herd and, of course, we have a number of people in the village who would like to see us implement 4-Poster.”
Sander said he would like to complete a more extensive survey to determine what people really want and how involved the community is willing to get in addressing this issue.
“This is really going to take a commitment by the community to get involved,” he said.
Residents will not only be needed in terms of opening up their land either for a 4-Poster device or hunting, but the village will also need volunteers, said Sander. He would also like to see a tick counting program implemented, using dragging techniques Suffolk County Department of Health officials can train local residents to perform effectively. Understanding the number of ticks, and the potential diseases they carry, said Sander, is critical to battling this epidemic.
Financial contributions will also be necessary, he said.
“We have the potential to accomplish a lot depending on the community response we get,” said Sander. “I really do believe something must be done and not just here in North Haven. We have to get the county involved so we can start studying the effectiveness of what each community is doing so we can really understand what works.”