About two weeks after Suffolk County’s Tick Task Force heard feedback from Southold residents on what needs to be done to eradicate tick borne illnesses, Southold Town Board members discussed creating a tick task force on the local level — if only to keep pressure on county and state entities in the effort to thin a tick-infested deer herd on the North Fork.
“I think the most important issue for this task force is to push for policy change on how people can hunt,” said Councilman Al Krupski at Tuesday morning's Town Board work session. “The DEC needs to understand that things are much different in Southold than they are upstate as far as shooting distances between residences.”
Due to the narrow geography of the North Fork, hunting is limited to bow and arrow and only on certain Town-owned parcels, making the task of thinning the herd difficult for even participants in the which formed in 2008. Hunters took 382 deer in that program last year, but some residents at the county’s tick task force meeting earlier this month said that’s not nearly enough.
“We have to let our lawmakers know that they can’t be dancing around the issue out here anymore,” said Councilman William Ruland.
Deer are one of the main carriers of ticks in Suffolk County — and a tick bite can cause Lyme Disease, an ailment that is often misdiagnosed and untreated. According to the Center for Disease Control, 3118 cases of Lyme disease were confirmed in New York State in 2011, and 1372 were “probable” cases.
Councilman Ruland said that a local tick task force should also examine ways to contain deer in one area to make something like the “4-poster” tick management method of ridding deer of ticks — something that has worked on Shelter Island — more feasible for the North Fork.
Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell said that he’d like to hold a public hearing for more feedback before creating the task force. Al Krupski said he’d like to see State Sen. Ken LaValle and Assemblyman Dan Losquadro at that hearing.
“This is a good way to see what they intend to do to move these goals forward,” Krupski said.