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Mayor de Blasio Announces Multifaceted Deer Impact Management Plan for Staten Island

May 10, 2016

Four-pronged plan proposes sterilization of male deer, traffic safety measures, public education and natural resource protections

NEW YORK––Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP today announced that the City has proposed aggressive actions to control Staten Island’s white-tailed deer population and its impact on public health, traffic safety, and natural resources.

“Staten Islanders made their voices heard, and the City listened. We are moving ahead with a plan to manage the impacts of the deer population on Staten Island in a way that is smart, effective, and humane. With a multifaceted approach that includes sterilization, education, and the protection of natural resources, we’re confident this is the best plan to ensure the safety and happiness of Staten Islanders who have been affected by the growing deer population,” said Mayor de Blasio.

“In a densely populated community like Staten Island, deer pose threats to health, safety, and environmental integrity – which is why it’s so important that we act now. Listening to community voices and wildlife and public safety experts, we have created a forward-thinking approach that promises to be both effective and humane,” said Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP

At high population levels, white-tailed deer can pose significant challenges to human health and safety through deer-vehicle collisions and associations with tick-borne illnesses, and have a detrimental impact on both forest biodiversity and tree regeneration. Deer have no natural predators Staten Island. Thus, a handful of recently arrived deer (presumed to have swum from New Jersey) have over the past few years quickly multiplied in number, and a 2014 aerial survey counted the deer population at 763.

The City has developed an integrated, non-lethal, site-specific management plan that will allow experts to take immediate steps to reduce future impacts of an over-abundant deer population. The four-pronged plan includes:

  • Sterilization Study: A three-year surgical sterilization study focused on male deer. Past studies of surgical sterilization have demonstrated a 10 to 30 percent decline in annual population. We propose focusing on males for this research project for several reasons.  First, the procedure is simpler to perform and less invasive for the animal. Second, there are typically far fewer males than females in suburban populations. Third, males can be operated on year-round providing a broader implementation window. This is particularly important on an area as large as Staten Island. Finally, the island constricts immigration of males that typically are more transient in the landscape, thus making this approach more likely to succeed than in a more contiguous landscape.
  • Traffic Safety Measures to reduce deer-vehicle collisions including signage, education, and deer resistant plantings on roadways.
  • Extensive Public Education focusing on living safely with deer in an urban environment, including driver education to reduce deer-vehicle collisions, public health education to reduce the incidence of tick bites and tick-borne illnesses, and environmental education to discourage feeding and encourage the planting of deer resistant plants.
  • Natural Resource Protections include new fences around planted forest, tree guards on new trees, deer-resistant plantings and further protective measures.

All wildlife in New York State fall under the regulatory jurisdiction of the State. Following fast-track contract approval by the Comptroller’s office, the City will submit a permit request to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation which, if approved, will allow for the sterilization study to begin this fall.

“There’s no denying the spike in our deer population, just as there’s no denying the spike in concerns around Lyme Disease. No one wants to see the wanton destruction of these animals, but to ignore the problems - not only tick-borne diseases, but ecological devastation and the inevitable clash between vehicles and deer - would be irresponsible,” said Staten Island Borough President James Oddo. “I support this effort and I hope it is effective. I appreciate the genuine effort by the Administration to address the very valid concerns we have raised.”

"This deer management plan potentially provides a long term solution to this widespread problem, and I appreciate the administration's efforts to make it collaborative and practical. It is imperative that in the interim, the safety measures proposed are also effective in reducing the harmful impacts of the exploding deer population on Staten Island,” said Council Minority Leader Steve Matteo.

“It’s encouraging to see that a comprehensive approach is being taken to address the unique challenges facing controlling the deer population on Staten Island. We want to find the right balance that ensures a healthy environment and protects our citizens and property,” said Assembly Member Matthew Titone.

"It's fairly evident that the overabundance of deer in Staten Island is a problem for both people and the animals alike.  This treat-and-release program is a bold, concrete step to address the issue in a humane manner that should achieve real results," said Assembly Member Nicole Malliotakis.

“Sterilizing male deer is a humane way to lower the number of deer on Staten Island, which in turn will protect residents from car collisions and protect our natural environment from the damage deer can do to our forest land. The sooner we address the deer population on Staten Island, the more effective our efforts will be at keeping the population low, and I applaud the city for moving to begin this program this fall. We cannot and should not delay. In the meantime, the public education campaign proposed by the administration is a necessary component to help protect our safety, and I look forward to working together to implement it,” said Council Member Debi Rose.

"This comprehensive deer management plan would address a wide range of issues associated with the out of control white-tailed deer population on Staten Island, making it a shared priority between public awareness and reducing the population of the herd," said Council Member Joseph Borelli. "I thank Mayor de Blasio and Borough President Oddo for their attention to this serious matter."

"We applaud Mayor de Blasio for his humane leadership and forward-thinking approach on wildlife management issues. We hope other jurisdictions will follow New York City's lead in recognizing that integrated,  non-lethal management methods are not only humane, but can also be more economical and sustainable ways of managing deer and other wildlife in our urban and suburban areas,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States.

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