The Town of DeWitt says it has too many deer and plans to finally implement a reduction program– effective immediately.
Town Supervisor Ed Michalenko says three years of study went into this decision with consultation from the US Department of Agriculture, SUNY ESF and Cornell Cooperative Extension.
The Town Board adopted a Deer Management Plan in October 2017 and subsequently received a Nuisance Permit from NYS DEC permitting the town to conduct a cull and harvest of antler-less deer.
Now through March 31, DeWitt will be conducting the plan across the Town with the deer cull phase to occur on both private and public lands.
As a safety precaution, night-time park closures – from dusk to dawn – will be in effect and enforced to provide for resident/visitor safety during this time.
Michalenko said in general, municipalities and townships don’t want to be involved in animal control, but the issue has become so severe that action needed to be taken.
Michalenko says the goal is to reduce the crisis-level Lyme Disease problem, often attributed to the deer population, while also decreasing car-deer crashes and home and property damage caused by the animals.
“For the first couple of years, it’s probably going to be fairly intensive. And then once we start to lower deer populations numbers, then hopefully it will revert to more of a maintenance program than an actual reduction.” Michalenko tells NewsChannel 9.
While “natural” levels for deer are generally accepted to be approximately 8.5 per square mile, some areas of DeWitt have approximately 85 deer per square mile.
“If there are other means to control the deer population and if we can back off the culling in the future, we’ll do that as well,” Michalenko said.
Michalenko added, “In order for this initial deer reduction to be optimally effective, as we move forward we will be collaborating with neighboring communities and also continuing to coordinate with SUNY-ESF. My sincere thanks to Assemblywoman Pam Hunter for obtaining special funding that will support us in creating the most comprehensive deer management plan possible.”
Through the Venison Donation Coalition and Hunters Feeding the Hungry Program, all the useable meat will be donated to the regional food bank.
According to the “Venison Donation” page of the DEC website, one deer donated for food creates approximately 200 meals for local families in need.