Featured Story

Shelter Island Reporter Letters to the Editor

 COURTESY PHOTO Congressman Lee Zeldin wrote to the Reporter about the events in Charlottesville last weekend.
COURTESY PHOTO Congressman Lee Zeldin wrote to the Reporter about the events in Charlottesville last weekend.

From Congressman Zeldin
To the Editor:
Anyone associating themselves with the KKK and Nazism is associating themselves with hatred, bigotry, racism, intolerance and a tremendously inhumane past filled with horrible evil.

This is one of the extremes that exist in our society that has a long history of trying to tear us apart.

We are still learning the facts of what happened in Charlottesville and there is evidence that the violence came from multiple groups and multiple sides and really no one can be defended who traveled to this beautiful, historic city for the sole purpose of causing physical harm to others.

It’s indefensible.

For that domestic terrorist who drove that car through that crowded street, his homicidal behavior must result in a prosecution to the fullest extent of the law.

For the protesters with pure, good, genuine and peaceful purposes, I think it is very important you were brave enough to be there to lend your voice.

For any of the protesters on either side with extremist views and violent purposes, you are 100 percent completely in the wrong.

I have spent a great deal of time in Charlottesville throughout my life, including an entire summer one year in the Army, and it really is one of the greatest cities we have in this country, so rich in history and culture, including our nation’s founding fathers.

This isn’t a time to be left or right, liberal or conservative, Republican or Democrat. This is a time to be an American. Quite candidly, every day should be the perfect day to be an American first. United.
Congressman, First District, U.S. House of Representatives

Building what is right
To the Editor:
As a faith leader in this community, I was horrified, though not surprised, by the violence displayed in Charlottesville last weekend that was born of white supremacy in this country. Neo-Nazis, KKK members and other cowards joined together to exemplify the horrors that happen when we choose to ignore the humanity in one another’s eyes.

As a white person, I try my best to be acutely aware of the ways in which I have knowingly and unknowingly benefited from white privilege. Only by acknowledging our complicity in the systemic illness of racism will we begin the path towards reconciliation and a more just nation for all peoples.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German Christian theologian who was executed by the Nazis in 1945, said, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”

We would be foolish to tell ourselves that racism stops on the other side of the ferry. I implore all Shelter Islanders to join me in condemning racism even as we acknowledge our complicity in the flourishing of such destructive and inhumane behaviors. However, we must not condemn these actions with words alone. Our condemnation of such evil must manifest itself in concrete actions of justice and righteousness.

Let us not simply stand against what is wrong, but actively work together to build up what is right.
Pastor, Shelter Island Presbyterian Church

More aggressive culling
To the Editor:
I am writing this in support of the great letter from Bryan Carey in last week’s Reporter, regarding the Shelter Island Association’s position on deer and tick management. I, too, have closely followed the work done by all those dealing with this difficult issue.

The one factor not yet mentioned is Powassan virus. This potentially fatal tick-borne disease has been increasingly spotted throughout New England.

In light of this, the importance of including more aggressive culling of deer in any plan cannot be stressed enough.
Shelter Island

Phase out 4-posters
To the Editor:
In this age of environmental enlightenment, it is shocking that a member of the Town Board would favor a long-term and ongoing chemical treatment program as a solution to a problem when a viable alternative exists. Yet that is precisely what is happening with the management of the deer and tick crisis.

The 4-poster is of questionable effectiveness. Allowing for the fact that it may be beneficial in reducing tick density in the immediate area, it is a superficial approach that treats the symptom rather than the underlying cause. This would be analogous to someone with a bone injury electing to take pain killers for the rest of their life instead of fixing the injury.

In some respects, despite any short-term benefits, the 4-poster may actually exacerbate the problem by contributing to an increased deer population. The deer are so well fed that they often are having two and three births. As someone who spends a great deal of time in the field enjoying and photographing nature, I am sensitive to those who want deer to remain an integral part of the Shelter Island experience.

However, anyone with two eyes can attest that the number of deer is out of control and poses a serious health and safety risk to all residents.

In summary, the 4-poster is expensive, with the state drastically reducing its contribution; it generates the wide-spread presence of permethrin, the potential effects of which are not known; it is marginally effective; it does nothing to address the root cause, which is the excessive number of deer on the Island.

The 4-poster should be phased out while aggressive culling is pursued.
Shelter Island

Damaging pesticide
To the Editor:
A big concern I have with the survey going out to Shelter Island residents regarding the issue of ticks and 4-posters is there is no question on this survey addressing the use of a serious and perhaps the long-term damaging pesticide called permethrin, which is used on the 4-poster at a concentration 10 to 20 times stronger than broadcast spray. As of November 17, 2016 permethrin, has been advanced from the EPA Contaminant Candidate (CCL) List 3 to the EPA CCL List 4, which means it is on a list with banned substances such as MTBE.

Permethrin, which is a carcinogen, has been found or anticipated to be found in public drinking water. This is all according to the EPA and has been completely ignored by the Shelter Island Town Board and Deer and Tick Committee, with the exception to Marc Wein, who has become concerned with permethrin getting into our drinking water and the wells of private property owners.

The chances of permethrin becoming a banned substance has gone up significantly because of this recent listing by the EPA . Should the EPA ban permethrin, the Island once again will be stuck with a banned substance in its water table along with MTBE. This will drive real estate values down and damage our only water supply on the Island even further.
Shelter Island
The CCL, the EPA says on its website, “is a list of contaminants that are currently not subject to any proposed or promulgated national primary drinking water regulations, but are known or anticipated to occur in public water systems. Contaminants listed on the CCL may require future regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). EPA announced the Final CCL 4 on November 17, 2016.” —Ed.

Reduce the deer population
To the Editor:
Since the early 1950s, I have been a summer resident of Shelter Island. Now my grandchildren visit. In July, my daughter found three ticks on her children. When she had the ticks tested, all carried Lyme disease.

The grandchildren are visiting again this week. We take daily walks and bike rides around our community and have noticed numerous deer, regardless of the time of day. The deer population continues to grow, as does the threat of tick-borne illnesses.

Something needs to be done immediately to reduce the deer population since deer are a primary tick carrier.
Shelter Island

Failed approach
To the Editor:
Some facts about Shelter Island’s failed three prong approach to ticks:
•    77 percent of funds go to feeding corn (350,000 pounds annually) to deer with the 4-poster permethrin system
•    17 percent of funds go to managing the herd, with the deer population by some estimates up 80 percent since 2007. Only $4,000 goes to our local hunters
•    6 percent of funds go to education
•    Corn is a staple of the white footed mouse’s diet, and the mice do not get treated with the permethrin when feeding by the 4 poster

This is why you are seeing more deer, mice and ticks.

Fill out your survey.
Shelter Island

Eliminate the deer
To the Editor:
After seeing news stories about deaths from a tick-borne disease, friends cancelled their plans to stay with me for a week this August. We would have bought food from the chicken barbecue, gone to Island restaurants a few times, bought toys for the kids, bait and gas for fishing trips and easily spent a $1,000 or more.

This is just one example of the impact that the tick problem has on our economy and quality of life.

Fatalities from tick-borne diseases are extremely rare but the psychological impact is profound.

The solution has been available for many years, but the political will has not. Shelter Island could be virtually tick-free.

More than a decade ago, it was proven in other communities that when the deer are completely removed, the tick population and incident of disease almost disappears within two years. Only the deer can regenerate massive amounts of ticks each year. It is a statistical fact, not theory.

Those who effectively argue for animals that propagate diseases can do so as private citizens.
Councilman Paul Shepherd advocates for the rights of the deer. As a public servant, Paul is obligated to advocate on behalf of the public. The ultimate responsibility of our elected officials is to protect the health and welfare of the people, even when it conflicts with their own personal beliefs and that of some constituents.

When the board talks about protecting the environment, they should remember that it is for the benefit of the people. Just as we monitor local waters and discard toxic scallops, we do so to protect the livelihood of the baymen and the health of the consumer.

The scallop does not have unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; neither do our toxic deer. We do.

Our Town Board is aware there is one solution that will succeed. Eliminate the deer, not just reduce the herd population. Rather than make a decision based on facts and proven science, they surrender to governing by survey. The board continues to compromise our health and economy while seeking ways to spare the deer.

The number of deer determines the quantity of ticks which determines our risk of contracting a tick-borne illness.

What is an acceptable number of children who will be stricken with a devastating tick-borne disease?
Shelter Island

Core identity
To the Editor:
I was disappointed to see your front page article concerning mega-yachts last week (“True to its moniker,” August 10).

The Island has undoubtedly changed as a result of visits from vessels like the one described, at length, by the Reporter, but is that really newsworthy of such a vibrant, involved community?

Is the core identity of the Island gossip about ostentatious wealth? I hope not.
Shelter Island should be defined by its hardworking residents, robust civil services and its natural beauty. Yes, gratuitous overcompensation exists on our island, but that shouldn’t ever be our focus. I hope that in the future, the Reporter can distinguish itself for its civic-mindedness; let’s leave the billionaire worship to others.
Shelter Island

Don’t abandon pets
To the Editor:
The nonprofit Shelter Island Webster Foundation is asking summer residents not to abandon your adopted pet when you leave. If you want help finding a new home, please contact Debbie Spotteck at (631) 749-0074.
Thank you.
Shelter Island

Thank you, friends
To the Editor:
Thank you to all our Shelter Island friends who supported us last Friday night at the Friday Night Dialogue, “The Resurrection of an Armenian Girl,” and for the generous donations to the Steve Tarpinian Memorial Fund.
Shelter Island