Ossining Letter: Teatown Should Seek Deer Kill Alternatives

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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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Comments (5)


When you willfully support and push an ecosystem out of balance, everything suffers.

While sharpshooters aren't wolves-replicating the consequences of predators other than a car can shift things in a better direction. Before you cry over deer- watch this.



Ok Linda,
How about this. All the extra deer live in your yard while you wait for birth control to lower numbers. You deal with the ticks and disease while you wait.
You have your cars kicked, your yard destroyed. You can take them.

I'm sick of the giant rats. They are hardly magnificent except in children's cartoons. They come into our yard and the next day anybody that walks in the yard gets a tick. Let me know where you live-I'll drop them on your leg, in your hair and on your face. You love the deer right? Love the reality of deer, not some fantasy story. Let me know-I'll place the ticks on you myself.

Nature is hard. Nature does not care how selfish you are acting regarding the actions of an ecosystem that in no way involves you. It doesn't matter how it makes you feel. You're an adult. Act like it.

Alex Davis:

Exactly. This birth control is ridiculously expensive and does not solve the problem that there are way too many deer right now. Deer populations must be lowered to around 6 per square mile and maintained at that level to be effective. The Massachusetts State Lyme Disease Commission has recommended deer removal to combat Lyme. I remember when one never saw a deer or a deer tick. The deer epidemic caused the Lyme epidemic.

Alex Davis:

Animal rights activists have stopped the medically necessary deer removal projects by law suits and spreading false pro-deer propaganda.Yet Lyme epidemics were stopped by removing deer in Mumford Cove CT, Great Island MA, and Monhegan Island Me. In the first two places, there were the other animals who could host the adult tick, but they were not able to take the place of the deer.
Ticks come from tick eggs, and over 90 percent of the adult egg-laying tick feed on deer. Ticks on one deer can produce up to a million tick eggs per season. Adult egg-laying ticks require a sizeable mammal to feed on and cannot feed on a mouse or bird, for instance. Thus not one tick egg comes from a tick feeding on a mouse. When deer were removed from Monhegan Island, tick population plummeted and the Lyme epidemic ended. There were still rats on the island, but no tick eggs came from these rats.
There are other mammals elsewhere which may host the adult tick but they are not present in large enough numbers to take the place of deer. Many groom ticks off of themselves.
These animal rights groups should be sued for spreading diseases and depriving us from enjoying nature as we did before the deer epidemic. In 1930 there were 300,000 deer. Today there are 30 million.
Lyme disease can cause crippling arthritis, brain damage, and heart disease (fatalities have been reported), and the group at highest risk is the children. Animal rights groups put the rights of deer above the rights of our children. More and more diseases are now known to be carried by the deer tick and like Lyme are increasing in incidence. These include babesiosis, anaplasmosis, and Powassan viral encephalitis. The deer lovers should consider loving people too.


Well said. The selfish attitudes of those such as Lisa care more about how actions make them feel instead of what is best for the greater good. I will gladly back the idea of marketing the idea that they support the spread of disease in children, because the reality is-they do.

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