In March of 2015, I invited Assemblymen Mike Cusick and now-Councilman Joe Borelli to Borough Hall. The purpose was to meet with me and former NYC Parks Department employee Kevin Heatley, a restoration ecologist, so that we might have a candid and forceful conversation with the press about the dangers of the growing deep population. We spoke of the inevitability of ecological devastation, a rise in tick borne diseases and an increase in vehicular/deer collisions. And we spoke about the inevitability of one of those collisions resulting in serious injury or death.
This was a clarion call to city and state officials: the novelty of seeing deer on Staten Island was over, and the four individuals sitting in Borough Hall that day were demanding that action be taken.
If you have been following this story you know the city selected a rather unorthodox approach – bucks would be tranquilized and given vasectomies. Most islanders following the story found this peculiar and voiced their opinions, with a recent epic rant by Senator Diane Savino leading the charge on Facebook. I completely understood. Until our introduction to Tony DiNicola, my staff and I had been working diligently with state and federal officials to prepare for a cull, led by USDA personal, much like many other jurisdictions with similar population densities.
I was committed to seeing this unpopular approach taken, because while I’m not that good at math, I recognized and accepted the statistical probabilities for what they are. Since Fall of 2014 I’ve been saying that when - not if - there is a serious injury or fatality, this debate and dialogue will stop on a dime, and even the some critics of culling will demand action.
I still fear that scenario.
Unfortunately, and I do think it is regrettable, the culling approach was never going to get the support of the NYPD or the de Blasio Administration. Additionally, even if we’d been able to convince said critics, we undoubtedly would have been confronted with multiple legal challenges, as there have been in many other jurisdictions, resulting in years of delays.
So, vasectomies it is. Yes, snicker if you will, I get it. But the good news is that a deer management plan is underway. We will know relatively in relatively short order if this approach has a chance to work. In the meantime, you drivers please be careful as the risk deer pose to motorists still very much exists.