Deer Ticks: No 4-posters likely for North Haven

TIMES REVIEW FILE PHOTO | Bucks feed at a 4-Poster feeding station like those tested over the last five years on Shelter Island.

North Haven Village won’t be investing in 4-poster tick control systems anytime soon and likely will opt instead for a policy of trying to cull the deer population, hoping that will be the solution to eliminating the threat of tick-borne diseases in the area.

Both Mayor Laura Nolan and Trustee Jeffrey Sander made it clear that the Village Board had no money for 4-posters and remains convinced culling the herd is a safer and more effective means of  dealing with the problem. Both raised concerns about the high 10-percent concentration of permethrin on the 4-poster’s rollers.

The mayor said she is working with the village building inspector to identify areas where hunters would have a 500-foot radius from buildings that would enable them to take out the deer during the village’s nuisance-permit program for bow hunters. Ms. Nolan said she’s also planning an aerial scan of the village this winter to get a better handle on the number of deer in North Haven. And she’s reaching out to nearby communities, specifically citing Southold, where there’s a stepped-up effort to cull the herd by increased hunting.

She expressed strong reservations about the use of the tickicide permethrin that is used on the 4-posters and remains on deer hides.

“It doesn’t sound right that the meat is safe to eat,” Ms. Nolan said. Resident Dr. Richard Gambino, who has opposed deploying 4-posters, supported her, saying that permethrine is very durable and doesn’t break down.

Mr. Sander said evidence shows that if the deer population is reduced, so is the incidence of tick-borne diseases. Fishers Island culled its herd significantly and has no Lyme disease problem, the trustee said.

“I’m a big animal lover,” Mr. Sander said. But the need to cull the herd to a manageable level overrides that consideration, he said. If North Haven used 4-posters, he estimated it would need to deploy 40 to 45 units and the only way to do that would be with private funds and on private property.

“We haven’t taken a  uniform position,” Mr. Sander said about the board. But he went on to say he wouldn’t support deployment of 4-posters.

For several months, resident Josephine DiVincenzi has lead a vocal coalition of residents pleading with the Village Board to obtain a state permit to deploy 4-posters and lease the spares now in storage on Shelter Island. She has pushed for them to be in place by March 2013. But Dr. DiVincenzi was absent from Tuesday night’s Village Board meeting and, for the first time since summer, there were few people encouraging use of 4-posters. Among them was Shelter Island Reporter Editor Peter Boody, a North Haven resident who has editorialized in favor of the units here and Islander Janalyn Travis-Messer, a member of the original Shelter Island Tick Task Force. She currently is an official of a foundation that helped support Shelter Island’s three-year 4-poster study.

Mr. Boody outlined the arduous studies and three-year trial effort that led the Shelter Island Town Board to conclude that it was worth continuing the program at a current cost of $75,0000 a year and likely $90,000 next year to expand the use of 4-posters.

“There was a tremendous uphill fight” on Shelter Island before board members, who started off as skeptics, came to embrace the program, Mr. Boody said.

Ms. Travis-Messer argued that sprayed tickicides pose a threat to waterways while the oil-based permethrin stays on the rollers of the 4-posters and the necks of deer. She said the units cost a bit more than $400 to buy and about $5,000 a year each to maintain.

Dr. Richard Gambino, who has been a lone voice fighting against the coalition of residents and experts from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and Cornell Cooperative Extension and Cornell University, was joined Tuesday by Islander Richard Kelly, a vociferous opponent of the 4-posters deployed here. And Dr. James Morrisey, another North Haven resident who practices orthopedic medicine in Riverhead, argued that 4-posters wouldn’t reduce the threat of traffic accidents caused by deer. Not a week goes by when Dr. Morrisey said he doesn’t see a patient in his office with injuries resulting from a motor vehicle accident involving a deer.