Health & Environment

Community group to hold another deer management meeting

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO |  Experts to discuss how to manage the deer population on the North Fork.

The East Marion Community Association is holding its second weekend meeting in a row on the topic of deer management, featuring environmental, health and town officials.

In September, Southold Town hosted a deer forum outlining the many dangers of overpopulation on the North Fork. The unchecked deer popular has reached crisis level in Southold, according to Supervisor Scott Russell.

“The deer infestation on the North Fork is one of the biggest public health crises we have,” Mr. Russell said.

Last weekend’s meeting at the East Marion fire house featured Dr. Rajeev Fernando, an infectious disease specialist from Southampton Hospital, who discussed tick-borne diseases prevalent on the North Fork.

About 3,500 of the 35,000 deer in Suffolk County live in Southold Town, according to Joshua Stiller, a wildlife biologist with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Only about 2,600 to 3,000 deer have been harvested across the county in each of the past three years, he said. A total of 598 deer have been killed through Southold Town’s deer management program since it began in 2008, including 212 a year ago.

Overpopulation is causing famers financial hardship due to loss of crop and  has increasingly become the source of a growing number tick-related illness, according to the supervisor.

Estimates reported this past summer suggest that the number of people diagnosed with Lyme disease nationwide is roughly 10 times higher than the yearly reported number, due to misdiagnoses and unreported illnesses.

The meeting will take place at 10 a.m. at Poquatuck Hall on Village Lane in Orient.

Topics up for discussion include:

• Ecological damage to Dam Pond and other areas by Thomas Rasweiler, Southold Deer Management Task Force

• Deer Habits, sterilization and the “Four Poster” Program by Jeff Standish, Southold Town

• Tick-borne diseases including Babesiosis by Dr. Robert Walsh, Infectious Disease Specialist, ELIH

• Reducing deer herds to sustainable levels by Sherry Thomas, North Fork Deer Management Committee

• U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Sharp Shooter Program by Don Stewart, North Fork Deer Management Committee

For more information contact the association at [email protected] or 631-477-2819.