Too many and too much: that’s the message the North Fork Deer Management Alliance is hoping to spread to you through a direct mail brochure it hopes to send to every home in Southold Town.
“We have too many deer!” the front page of the brochure reads in big bold letters. “Too many tick-borne diseases; too many auto accidents; too much destruction to our forests; too much contamination of our waters; too much economic devastation.”
Much of the rest of the eight-fold brochure includes excerpts from a series of six op-eds the citizen action group published in The Suffolk Times last year.
“We condensed all this great information from people who really know what they’re talking about and we want to get it out there to people,” said William Sertl of Nassau Point, a magazine editor who designed the brochure along with Hazel Kahan, a writer and radio host who lives in Mattituck.
Mr. Sertl said he hopes the brochures accomplish two goals: to motivate individual property owners to allow hunters on their land and to change people’s attitudes about the deer crisis.
“We’re animal lovers too but this is a health crisis,” he said. “It has to be dealt with and can’t be ignored.”
The op-eds were written by physiologist Dr. John Rasweiler, Trustee John Bredemeyer, farmer and former town supervisor Tom Wickham, among others. They were published between November 2014 and January 2015 and cover topics related to the impact deer have had on agriculture, water quality and woodlands, as well as the many tick-borne illnesses they help spread. One page lists the “seven biggest myths about deer.”
Ms. Kahan said she hopes the brochure is something people take notice of.
“We believe this is something people will want to hang on to,” she said. “We hope they’ll read this and keep it. We hope young people will read it.”
The idea to put the columns together in a direct mail piece came in April and the organization has been working at it ever since.
The brochures have been designed and the group is now looking to raise funds to have them produced and mailed, which could cost $20,000 to mail to every home in Southold Town, said John Severini, a member of the civic group.
Mr. Severini said the brochures cost 70 cents to produce and another 70 cents to mail. They’re now trying to raise funds and looking for other, more affordable ways to spread the brochures and their message.
“The intent is to educate,” he said. “A lot of people just see deer and see them as pretty things or they see them on the side of the road. They really don’t see the underbrush disappearing. Unless they’re farmers, they don’t know about the economic impacts.”
While the brochures are in the works, Southold Town is moving closer to finding its own way to educate residents: a new part-time wildlife management position.
At a work session meeting Tuesday morning, Town Board members said they will ask the town’s deer management and land preservation committees for their input on what the position’s duties should be. Once the groups make their suggestions, the town plans to send the job description to the county’s civil service department, which would create a formal designation for the job.
Supervisor Scott Russell said the job could be filled by next spring, if all goes smoothly.