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Southold Town considers pilot program to help control tick population

Southold Town will consider a pilot program to control the tick population at its preserves.

Southold Town public works director Jeff Standish described at Tuesday’s work session a field test wildlife manager Craig Jobes conducted at the horse trail near North Bayview Road in Southold. He walked through the trail without any repellent and emerged with several ticks on his body.

On separate occasions, he walked the same trail. When he used the insect repellent OFF!, he had fewer ticks and then even fewer when using an organic repellent made with cedar oil, Mr. Standish said.

Mr. Standish recommended the town purchase a backpack blower that will be used to spray one preserve with Tick Killz, an all-natural deterrent to lessen the tick population as part of the pilot program to test how well it works this season. Depending on the results, the board could make more permanent arrangements in the next few years. The one-time cost for the blower will be about $1,000, Mr. Standish said. The pilot program will help determine the final cost for the more permanent plan to come in the future, he said.

“If we implemented a program for a year we can use it as a base for the next few years,” Supervisor Scott Russell said. “Because whether we like it or not, we are going to have to get into the business of tick management.”

Councilman Bob Ghosio pointed out that since the last two winters were so warm, more ticks than usual survived, so the population is especially bad this year.

Mr. Standish said no matter what, people must still spray themselves before going through the woods.

In the meantime, Mr. Standish and Mr. Jobes will be distributing tick tip sheets to the public to help people identify and prevent tick bites.

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