Letters to the Editor: Deer 07.13.17

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With Wildlife

East Hampton

July 10, 2017

Dear Editor,

The village is again conspiring to kill more innocent, beautiful deer. In 2015-2016, they worked with the East Hampton Village Preservation Society, using White Buffalo’s inhumane deer sterilizing program, which killed many. Guess for what? To protect hydrangeas. 

I love all kinds of animals and feel so fortunate to be able to live in East Hampton because of the beauty of the wildlife and nature. I care about all living beings and the environment. Deer don’t bother me at all but only make me happy, so I don’t understand why they have to kill or hurt them. Why can’t we live with wildlife in harmony? East Hampton Town also has already been constantly adding more hunting privileges to those cold-blooded trophy-hunters. We definitely don’t need to have “culling.” 

I truly feel sympathy for people who have gotten Lyme disease. I can only imagine how hard it must be. However, studies show not all deer carry Lyme disease, and other creatures host ticks as well. A few of my own family members and close friends have Lyme disease too, but they wouldn’t think of hurting deer. My family and I enjoy having deer around our house. I think they like our grass because we don’t use pesticides. Squirrels, chipmunks, raccoons, opossums, bunnies, and many kinds of birds are frequent visitors too. I love hydrangeas, and we do have them too, but we don’t fence around our property, which would push deer out to the road. Only around the plants, and that is enough. 

“The over-burgeoning population of deer, a public health hazard, public nuisance, and quality of life issue” — Mayor Paul F. Rickenbach Jr. There is something very wrong here. People always blame deer overpopulation for car and deer collisions, but we, the humans, were the ones who stole their natural habitat by overdeveloping, then killing them by driving fast. It is not only summer people who are speeding here. People drive 10 miles per hour more than the speed limit, and that’s the fact. It is limit, not minimum speed. I drive the limit and people pass me even where they are not allowed to. It’s dangerous. But some people think I’m the crazy driver, and they harass me often. I know I’m just following the traffic law, and, most important, trying not to kill anything. 

But sometimes I wonder if I’m only provoking those bad drivers who don’t care. I don’t want anyone to get hurt, all I can do is to pray for them. I hope the police will start issuing tickets for those who don’t follow the speed limit signs, for not only deer or raccoons’ safety but for us humans too.

The mayor is mailing a questionnaire to the residents of the Village of East Hampton this week and will decide on what its next “effort to control deer” should be. I would definitely shout out, “If you must, fence only plants, spray for ticks, and keep the speed limit to see how the numbers of accidents will drop, before we try to take our beautiful deers’ lives!”

If you don’t take action now, they will kill more deer. “Nobody complained,” both the mayor and Kathleen Cunningham, executive director of the Village Preservation Society, said when I begged them to stop the sterilization at the village board meeting last year. That is not true. There are many compassionate people who would have complained about it, but only they had no idea how the village was hurting our deer. The preservation society received donations probably from people who want to protect their hydrangeas. The squeaky wheel gets the grease.

So let’s make some noise, and save our deer!

Love and peace, 

YUKA SILVERA

The Deer Population

Montauk

July 10, 2017

To the Editor:

The East Hampton Village Board’s recent organizational meeting included a discussion of deer. In its July 6 report of the meeting, The Star quoted the village mayor, Paul F. Rickenbach Jr., as saying, “It goes without saying that the over-burgeoning population of deer” presents “a public health hazard, public nuisance, and quality of life issue.” I am concerned about ways in which this statement may be inaccurate or misleading.

Is the deer population in the village burgeoning? In 2006 our group commissioned a ground-based survey of the size of the deer population throughout East Hampton. The study estimated that there were 56 deer per square mile in the village. The White Buffalo firm used the same survey method in January and November of 2015 and estimated 50 and 61 deer per square mile, respectively, in the village. Scientists who study deer densities would consider the three estimates to be nearly identical. The village’s deer population doesn’t seem to be rapidly growing.  

I suspect that the village’s deer population actually would have declined if it hadn’t been for expanded hunting in East Hampton outside the village. Because the village, which is fairly residential, prohibits deer hunting, deer enter it seeking refuge. It is likely that fewer deer would enter the village if there were wildlife sanctuaries — places where deer and other animals could find relief from hunting — outside the village.

The mayor’s most serious statement is that the deer population presents a “public health hazard.” For many of us, this phrase conjures up the specter of Lyme disease; for a long time, deer were blamed for the illness. But as Richard S. Ostfeld reports in his book “Lyme Disease,” research hasn’t revealed consistent statistical associations between deer population sizes and the prevalence of the disease. This is probably because the ticks that carry the disease do not primarily feed on deer. They mainly feed on white-footed mice. And ticks can feed on many other hosts, such as chipmunks, dogs, and birds. One promising method of eliminating ticks, the mouse bait box, doesn’t involve deer at all.  

The mayor adds that deer are a “public nuisance” and “quality of life issue.” This is sometimes true. Protecting gardens from deer can be a nuisance. It’s also inconvenient to drive slowly to reduce deer collisions. But many residents put up with such inconveniences because they respect the deer and feel that deer bring beauty and wonder to their lives.  

Recently, several people have said that deer are damaging part of our environment, our woodland vegetation. But the topic is controversial. The botanist Thomas J. Rawinski, who has spoken at the Village Preservation Society of East Hampton forums, says that the vegetation loss is severe, but Larry Penny, an esteemed local naturalist, disagrees. We need independent research on the issue and, if need be, on potential solutions.  

Generally speaking, our public officials have viewed deer in a negative light and have sought to deal with them through lethal means. (The one exception was the village’s sterilization program, which also killed several deer.) The deer have suffered enormously. Rather than inflicting further pain, our community needs to step back, gather more scientific data, and consider humane, nonlethal solutions to the problems it sees. 

BILL CRAIN

President 

East Hampton Group for Wildlife

Will Never Go Away

East Hampton

July 10. 2017

Dear David,

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. 

Look, I respect the Village Preservation Society of East Hampton for most of their accomplishments, but their involvement in the “deer issue” as being a quality of life matter is simply a joke. I’m referring to their ad announcing their presentation of an informational forum on the “Impacts of the Deer Population on Our Community.” 

The sterilization (a.k.a. Spay a Doe) program was a complete failure, for the preservation society and the village. Over $130,000 ($105,000 from the society) of donated funds wasted, community divided in anger, reputations tarnished, animals horribly and inhumanely treated, and the East Hampton Village Preservation Society wants you to follow their lead again? 

Personally, I’m 100 percent for their second attempt, because I can’t wait to see the list of folks who are going to fall for this bamboozling twice. This is going to be the greatest medicine show since the trade traveled by horse and covered wagon. 

Let me remind folks of the truth, a concept we find much more entertaining and profitable to alter to individual needs. Now sit down, everyone, I’m about to shock you with an actual, indisputable fact. Because the village doesn’t have an invisible deer repellent fence around its border, there was no way in the world the Spay a Doe program was going to work. I’ll go one step further, and mark my words. This goes out to the preservation society, the village mayor, and the village board, even all those of the deer-hating community. It also includes all you folks with your fenced-in properties and your lavish landscaping, and all you boobs who think the roadways are your personal speedways. 

All you folks so eager to destroy life to make yours even more undeserving, the State D.E.C. and the speakers who get stacked to speak at this “informational forum” (R.S.V.P. Requested). Listen up, East Hampton Town, this goes out to you as well. Are you ready? You’re never going to solve the deer issue. Come on, people, face the facts and stop ignoring the obvious. Short of culling the entire East End of all herds, which would never happen, deer will never go away, nor will anyone be able to administer birth control to the number of does that would curb the population to a manageable level west of the Shinnecock bridge, in the amount of time necessary for the operation to work.

The very thought is ludicrous, and it spawns these senseless attempts by people and organizations (like the preservation society) who couldn’t be more unqualified to even cast judgment in the matter. I don’t care how many experts they get to speak to the village sheep or to back their baseless data, because there will always be twice as many equally credible experts to rebut each one.

That’s the easy part. What seems to be more difficult is getting folks to see what exists right in front of them — the truth. The deer populations have only decreased over the years, and that’s why no one wants to conduct a count. It couldn’t be more logical. In 40 years, we’ve destroyed 80 percent-plus of the deer habitat by construction and rapid growth. The deer couldn’t possibly remain at their original numbers from even a decade ago, because of their lack of habitat to survive. More homes equals less habitat and more people. More people equals more cars. Less habitat plus more cars equals the real problem. 

Culling the deer doesn’t solve the problem, because the deer will always be here, and both the town and village will keep building and growing until everyone’s front door hits their neighbor’s when opened, and our roads become the slowest and most dangerous means of transportation. 

Is anybody else getting this, or are we going to ignore the big picture for another decade? 

The Village Preservation Society wrote in their April newsletter that the “deer-spaying program came to a halt in 2015 because of threatened lawsuits by the wildlife preservation community.” The actual organization that “White Buffaloed” the society and the village has completely removed all mention of its East Hampton involvement. Several complaints, including mine, are still being investigated by the New York State Attorney General. What on God’s green earth makes anyone think that the preservation society or the village has the right answer this time? 

Hey, I have a better idea. How about, rather than spending $1,000 to spay a doe for no conceivable fact-based reason, how about paying for an attendant to keep folks from overfeeding or dumping their food waste at the Nature Trail during the summer months? We still have that huge litter issue you all like to ignore as well, on our roadsides and beaches. Now that’s a real benefit to the quality of everyone’s life. 

Quick reminder: First round, 125 targeted deer. The “experts” misidentify 11 deer as female and tag the males. Three others are killed while being operated on by people that weren’t permitted to do the surgery. That leaves 111 females. The first year, between my volunteers, reports to me personally, reports from the town, village, and the hunting society, we recorded a loss of 35 tagged deer. In financial terms, a loss of $35,000. 

Three years later, and we can only account for 22 remaining tagged does of the first 111. We also have a tagged doe that has given birth twice since she was “apparently sterilized.” The outside deer populations have migrated back into the village and the populations are exactly the way they started. 

I will however, give the preservation society and the village most of the credit for dividing the community over an issue concerning life and/or death of another living thing. Congratulations for that. Nothing screams quality of life than pinning neighbor against neighbor. 

Instead of humans being concerned about a browse line and their impact on other creatures in their community, how about you let Nature take care of nature and you just worry about your community. I think humans have done enough damage and I suspect they will continue unencumbered, thanks to the present leadership and the theory of not worrying about tomorrow until you thoroughly F**K up today. The deer are nature’s way of saying Slow Down. I suggest you take nature’s advice. 

Watching idiots play God,

DELL CULLUM