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Tick pilot program effective as Southold Town develops eradication efforts

08/30/2017 6:02 AM |

Southold Town’s pilot program to spray a cedar oil tick repellent at the horse trail near North Bayview Road in Southold was successful in cutting down the number of ticks collected along the path. 

Town environmental analyst Craig Jobes first sprayed Tick Killz mixed with water on the trail on July 26. He found no ticks on his tyvek suit that day. When he originally walked the trail without tick repellent, he collected 49 ticks in three passes.

Since then, Mr. Jobes has walked the trail twice every other week. He found no ticks the second time he check on Aug. 1 and only found two on his suit after a trek on Aug. 15. The repellent lingers about a month, so he is looking to apply it again this week. Department of public works director Jeff Standish noted people should still always take caution to protect themselves along trails that have been sprayed.

The question now is which trails should be sprayed, and what the effort will cost, Councilman Jim Dinizio said. It may make sense to pick only trails that are used the most, Fishers Island Justice Louisa Evans suggested.

Supervisor Scott Russell compared the man hours to spray for ticks to snow removal efforts, in that both are “in the interest of public safety and welfare.” Councilman Bill Ruland said he’s “dismayed the commissioner of health refuses to declare a health emergency for ticks,” which would make additional resources available to the town. The town has taken a proactive stance on ticks, he said.

As far as other tick eradication efforts, the town is set to receive 100 quail this week. Once the quail are old enough and able to fly, they will sent out to feed on ticks, Mr. Jobes said.

In addition, as the start of hunting season is Oct. 1, property owners have been connected with hunters to address the deer population.

“It seems like more and more people are realizing what’s going on,” Mr. Standish said in terms of homeowners allowing hunting on their properties to manage the deer population.

kzegers@timesreview.com

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