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Ossining Letter: Teatown Should Seek Deer Kill Alternatives

In a letter to the editor, Linda Conte voiced her opposition to Teatown's plan to cull the population of deer in the area.
In a letter to the editor, Linda Conte voiced her opposition to Teatown's plan to cull the population of deer in the area. Photo Credit: Danny LoPriore

OSSINING, N.Y. -- The Ossining Daily Voice accepts signed letters to the editor. Send letters to ossining@dailyvoice.com .

Letter to the Editor:

Last weekend illustrated vividly some of the incredible juxtapositions of life in our community.

People from near and far traveled to Croton Point Park and nearby locations to attend Teatown’s 10th Annual Hudson River EagleFest to celebrate the re-emergence of bald eagles in the Hudson Valley. At the same time, the sponsor of that event, Teatown Lake Reservation, a 875-acre nature preserve in the towns of Yorktown and Cortlandt, was completing a three-week deer baiting program, and, the night before Eaglefest, began a program of hiring sharpshooters to kill 75 white tail deer. Since the deer baiting/killing program had never been made public, visitors to Eaglefest were shocked and dismayed to learn of it there because of a rally by animal lovers at Croton Point Park during the event.

In a recent article in Psychology Today, Marc Bekoff, Ph.D., former Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and co-founder with Jane Goodall of Ethologists for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, writes about the problem and how it is being handled in a nearby village in the Hudson Valley, Hastings on Hudson:

“Urban deer have become a "problem" in many different communities across the United States because there are simply too many of them.

“Many communities have resorted to "humanely" killing deer but now there's an option that I hope will be widely adopted. In a recent essay in the New York Times called, "A Kinder, Gentler Way to Thin the Deer Herd" by Lisa Foderaro, Hastings-on Hudson's (New York) Mayor Peter Swiderski "has settled on a less violent approach: birth control. In an experiment to be undertaken with assistance from Tufts University’s Center for Animals and Public Policy, Hastings hopes to become the first suburb in the United States to control deer through immunocontraception, using the animal’s own immune system to prevent it from fertilizing offspring."

“Dr. Alan Rutberg, the director of Tuft's center, calls the idea "brilliant." He has successfully used immunocontraception in self-contained areas such as Fire Island and elsewhere resulting in a 50 percent decrease in deer numbers over five years. Dr. Rutberg notes, “Deer have entered our backyards and essentially become unruly guests ... We are bound by suburban rules in dealing with them, and violence is not how we deal with neighbors we don’t like.”

“…Peaceful coexistence needs to be the way in which we live with urban neighbors and birth control is a wonderful alternative to killing these magnificent animals.”

Teatown’s refusal to seek less violent alternatives, the lack of public information or opportunity for input casts a big shadow over their mission and reputation going forward; more than 1,300 people have signed a petition to have the bait/kill program stopped. ( http://chn.ge/1dzcmrV )

Linda Conte

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