Minor Deer Cull Planned at NYS Parks
by Chris O'Neill
The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation plans to cull up to 180 deer this year on Long Island across several local parks in the state park system.
Critics have blasted the NYS Parks Office for doing "too little, and much too late" to battle the exploding deer population - now estimated at over 50,000 deer on Long Island.
The rise in deer population has burdened local habitats with overgrazing and increased the number of car accidents. The cost to homeowners is huge - running into the tens of millions - as deer destroy gardens, bushes and shade trees.
Deer are also the leading disease vector for infected black-legged ticks that transmit Lyme Disease. Over 475,000 people are infected with Lyme each year in America. Lyme Disease causes joint swelling, chronic fatigue, immune suppression and the loss of IQ in children. In rare cases, Lyme Disease causes heart problems that lead to death.
New York State will deploy three marksmen and a federal wildlife specialist, who will use shotguns with night vision scopes. They will also employ bait to attract deer - a technique not available to hunters.
Deer culls are now occurring regularly on suburban Long Island and are a relatively low-cost. One from last year took 49 deer and cost $46,231.
Hunters prefer expanded hunting over culling, but animal rights activists prefer sterilization. The latter method, however, has proven both expensive and ineffective. Fencing in deer is also not effective - deer can jump over 8 foot fences - and not cost-effective.
Up to 40 deer will be taken each from Sunken Meadow and Nissequogue River state parks in King’s Park, and in Caleb Smith Preserve in Smithtown. Ten deer will be taken at Planting Fields in Oyster Bay, and 50 at the Connetquot preserve in Oakdale. No State cull is planned for Caumsett Park in Lloyd Harbor.
The deer will be field-dressed and the meat donated to local food banks.