Trade-offs on disease
To the Editor:
If the word on the street is to be trusted, then the appointment of a wildlife control officer (“Town to hire wildlife manager,” December 10) is nearly complete, pending civil service procedures. What this means to the Island is not clearly outlined to those of us not on the Deer & Tick Committee.
But, the ugly head of a sharpshooter with nightscope and silencer running amok is rising up again. This drumbeat for “kill the deer with sharpshooters” seems to be coming from second homeowners who have the choice to leave the Island and safely live in their other domiciles while the rest of us live in fear.
If you have read the article in the Suffolk Times on the failed Southold Town hunt, you will see on the front page the cross-eyed stare of a sugar junkie staying up all night on a junk food high. That is the face of the so-called experienced experts who will be coming with automatic weapons. But, even the most careful handling of a weapon by the most trained and conscientious expert doesn’t eliminate error. Why take such a chance?
Tick-borne diseases can be debilitating. Nearly all can be treated successfully with antibiotics. The trade-off of the remote but possible death of a child or, for that matter, a dog, is not worth absolute immunity from Lyme disease.
Those in town government should declare their intentions — in support or opposition — openly and quickly to the use of sharpshooters, etc.
The pesticide used in the 4-posters has taken a toll on the environment that is still being calculated in contamination to groundwater, harm to shellfish and other unknowns. Such risks may be worth it if the reduction of disease is significant.
However, what we don’t know is if the tick population will decrease permanently if we eliminate the deer to targeted levels. It is possible the opportunistic tick will find another host such as rabbits, mice, raccoons and fox, which are all prevalent on the Island. Then I assume we will need to kill them, as well.
The irrational fear of tick-borne disease has become a cause célèbre of a subset of the Island who place their interests first, ahead of any consequence to the Island’s environment and the threat to the safety of the children who call it their home.ROBERT WAIFE