East Enders have become galvanized to stamp down the scourge of deer ticks here over the past few weeks after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control announced in late August that there are 10 times as many cases of tick-borne Lyme Disease as the CDC had previously thought.
Last week, Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman introduced county legislation to require the county’s Vector Control division, which has focused primarily on spraying for mosquitoes, to turn its attention to curbing the population of deer ticks, which spread Lyme Disease and other neurological ailments.
Meanwhile, North Fork citizens have banded together to form the North Fork Deer Management Alliance. Southold Town is planning a deer management forum next Thursday and the Village of North Haven is considering adopting its own version of the successful Shelter Island 4-Poster program that baits deer and coats them with pesticides.
East Hampton residents are also urging the East Hampton Town Board to get serious about tick-borne diseases.
Mr. Schneiderman’s proposed legislation, which he introduced Sept. 12, would require Vector Control to submit a yearly plan to reduce the incidence of Lyme Disease and other tick-borne illnesses.
“To date, the division has focused its attention on mosquito-borne illnesses, despite the fact that it was specifically created to focus on both mosquito and tick-borne illnesses,” his office said in announcing the legislation last week.
County Legislator Al Krupski, who represents the North Fork, co-sponsored the bill.
“Lyme disease is an epidemic on the East End of Long Island. Most of us have been impacted in some way by tick-borne disease,” he said. “Suffolk County needs to play an active role to control this growing health problem.”
Last year, Suffolk County created a Tick and Vector-Borne Diseases Task Force, at the urging of then-County Legislator Ed Romaine, whose seat was filled by Mr. Krupski when Mr. Romaine became Brookhaven Town Supervisor.
County Health Department Spokeswoman Grace Kelly-McGovern says that task force is expected to issue a report detailing its suggestions by the end of this year.
The North Fork Deer Management Alliance, which kicked off its work at the beginning of September, plans to raise public awareness of the scope of the deer problem and develop strategies to “return the deer population to a level compatible with the health and safety of the human population and with the environmental and economic integrity of the region,” according to their website. Peconic resident Susan Switzer is serving as president of the group.
Southold Town’s Deer Management Committee’s forum next Thursday, Sept. 26, will be held at the Peconic Recreation Center on Peconic Lane from 6 to 8 p.m. Southold Town has held numerous similar forums in recent years.
At Thursday’s forum, speakers from the Long Island Farm Bureau, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Cornell University, Eastern Long Island Hospital and the state Department of Environmental Conservation will discuss best practices for controlling dear, medical information, the 4-poster program, sterilization of deer, sharpshooting programs and increasing the availability of nuisance hunting permits. More information on Southold’s deer management program is available here.
Meanwhile, The Sag Harbor Express is reporting that residents in North Haven, just to the south of the Shelter Island ferry passage to the South Fork, are seriously weighing the possibility of using the 4-poster program there.