Staten Island, N.Y. — Burgeoning deer populations have long been a bane of many upstate communities, but white-tailed deer are now making New York City – specifically Staten Island – the apple of their eye.
DEC conducted a survey in 2008 that counted 24 deer on the island, but wildlife officials believe the number could be much higher.
And while Staten Island is the greenest of New York’s five boroughs, there still isn’t much room for all of its residents to share with herds of hungry deer.
“At this point, the size of the deer population on Staten Island is presenting some problems for communities, including traffic hazards and the potential for increase in the presence of Lyme disease-carrying ticks,” DEC Region 2 wildlife biologist Joseph Pane concluded. “The possibility of automobile accidents will increase as deer numbers increase. The public should refrain from feeding deer, an activity that is banned by state law.”
Pane’s report indicated four areas in the borough identified as frequent haunts of deer – Arthur Kill Road, Amboy Road, South Avenue and Victory Boulevard.
The deer population is reproducing and should now be considered self-sustaining, Pane said. It’s also difficult to obtain accurate figures because DEC is relying on resident reports and deer are highly mobile, he said.
Since encouraging hunters or hiring sharpshooters is not feasible in the heavily populated area, DEC is working with other agencies to look at alternatives to keep the deer population in check before it becomes a serious issue.
“Most of the calls we receive are of sightings, not actual complaints,” said DEC Region 2 spokesman Rodney Rivera. “At the present time, there are no requests to control the deer population. Any control activity would need to be authorized by the DEC. The department is working with New York State Department of Transportation and New York City Department of Parks and Recreation to identify issues related to deer presence.”
In the meantime, DEC does have guidelines to help residents and local officials cope with their cloven-hooved neighbors:
- Post appropriate signs to alert the driving public to the presence of deer in the areas identified in the survey.
- Install fencing in select location to prevent access by deer. DEC Region 2 staff can provide technical advice.
- Public health officials should promote public education about how to prevent tick bites, properly remove ticks and identify the symptoms of Lyme disease.
- The public should report any sightings of sick, emaciated or injured deer to DEC by calling (718) 482-4922.
The deer aren’t the only problem some residents of Staten Island are grappling with. The island is also seeing more and more wild turkeys roaming residential areas, and some of the gobblers have at times showed aggressive tendencies.