The rise in Staten Island’s deer population has caused great concern. It has increased the potential for injuries and death due to deer-vehicle collisions, caused vegetation destruction, increased the amount of ticks and cases of Lyme disease, as well having other implications on the environment.
Since deer migrated to Staten Island, they no longer are susceptible to natural predators, creating an environmental imbalance. When deer are not managed through hunting or their natural predators, they often succumb to starvation, which can be a long-suffering demise. This can result in deer carcasses and bodies left to decay in the woods and streets across Staten Island. Staten Island’s deer population is now at 2,100, up 9,000 percent since 2008.
Cities across the country are facing similar concerns over large deer populations in non-traditional areas where they have no natural predators. Several municipalities have tried sterilization programs, with the mission of cutting reproduction and reducing the deer population over time. New York City has incorporated a sterilization program in an effort to contain the growth in deer population.
Unfortunately, sterilization programs alone, like New York City’s, have been inadequate for significantly reducing the number of deer. According to the NYC Parks Department, Staten Island’s current sterilization plan anticipates lowering the deer population by 10 to 30 percent. Several municipalities across New York state have tried similar sterilization programs, costing millions of dollars with very little significant impact. Eventually, these municipalities have turned to lethal methods, like controlled bow hunting, within a few years to manage the increasing deer population in their areas.
Cities like Rye, New York, and Cincinnati, Ohio, are considering or have instituted a controlled bow hunting program that utilizes a lottery selection process, authorizing a limited number of experienced and trained bow hunters to participate. In Cincinnati, the program focuses in Mount Air Park, which encompasses 1,500 acres. The bow hunting program has proven to help in the effort to control the deer population. In 2016, Cincinnati’s controlled bow hunt resulted in 157 qualified hunters reducing the deer population by 139. Cincinnati’s 10-year program has resulted in a 1,354 reduction in the city’s deer population.
Some of Staten Island’s landscape may be conducive to a limited controlled bow hunting season. Fresh Kills Park, which encompasses 2,200 acres, and the Mt. Loretto Unique Area, which sits on more than 200 acres, each with high concentrations of deer, could be an ideal compromise.
Some may have concerns with potential bow-hunting in Staten Island presenting a danger. Fresh Kills Park and the Mount Loretto Unique Area can fit the criteria for safe bow hunting areas under the state guidelines. There are strict laws and state DEC officers enforce these regulations. According to the latest state statistics, in 2016 there were zero injuries from bow hunting across the entire state. A limited three-week hunting period could be communicated to the public via the news, social media and posting signs to ensure the park land remains safe for all hikers and those who love and appreciate our natural treasures.
A closed, three-week hunting period in these specific areas could provide a reasonable compromise to preserve the eco-system. In December 2017, the New York state assembly, senate and Governor Cuomo authorized cities and towns to consider euthanasia as part of their deer management plans. This would allow them to capture and kill the deer with methods aside from traditional hunting. The city and state should collaborate in developing a limited bow hunting program as part of the Deer Management Plan.
Allowing a select number of experienced and trained bow hunters to participate in a controlled bow hunt on Staten Island could help expedite the reduction in the deer population, potentially saving lives and city money. Deer hunters could also donate deer meat to feed local homeless families and individuals through the “Hunters Feed the Hungry” program.
You can read more about deer management programs in the following links: Cincinnati, OH – Controlled Bow Hunt Questions and Answers 2016 – 2017 : NYS Department of Conservation – Community Deer Management
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