Aerial infrared images of Shelter Island gave the town what the authorities call the most accurate number of deer populations on the island as the community continues to fight disease-carrying mites.
According to the Regional Tick-borne Disease Resource Center at Stony Brook Southampton Hospital, the East End tick risk season is from April to October, and May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month.
According to 2020, deer management is a particularly important issue for Shelter Island, with 68% of black-footed and deer ticks carrying the pathogens that cause Lyme disease. Data posted by the Suffolk County Tick Monitoring Program.. This is the second largest percentage of the county’s 10 towns, with Huntington having the highest percentage at 72%.
Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne disease.
The Shelter Island Deer and Tick Commission is working to implement a strategy to reduce herds to 50 per square mile during peak summer months, in line with the town’s deer management plan for 2019. The committee’s activities range from educational support at local schools to venison donation programs and online venison cooking demonstrations using stew and enchilada recipes.
“People have to coexist with deer, and unfortunately there are a lot of ticks, so be careful,” said Julia Weisenberg, a member of the committee and a local hunter.
The town committee commissioned an elevated road on January 24 and released data from a report counting 635 deer on 7,600 acres of the island at a meeting in April. Numbers fluctuate as hunters culling 138 deer this winter and are expected to have dozens of fawns this spring.
The town paid $ 25,148 to Davis Airlines, based in Kent, Ohio, to do the work. Funds have been redistributed from the previous four-poster deer management program, which closed the town in March 2020. The program questioned the wisdom of feeding deer populations while trying to control deer populations, but applied the pesticide permethrin to the deer at the feeding station.
Pilot Larry Davis flew the Cessna 182 over the island and took a thermal image with the camera pointing down on the belly of the plane.
According to the report, deer appear as fairly bright white dots or thin lines, but livestock appear much brighter, which means they are warmer. Davis believes the count is about 90% accurate, but said it may not be 100% accurate.
“My number of deer is generally considered to be the smallest, not the largest,” Davis wrote in the report. “Some deer remain undetected in almost all environments.”
People who get Lyme disease after being bitten by ticks can develop a bullseye rash and experience flu-like symptoms, fever, and joint pain. Long-term effects include swelling and pain in the joints and heart problems.
“We can do our best, but after all, it really is about personal responsibility and vigilance,” Weisenberg said. “When you go out, make sure you protect yourself, because it is impossible to get rid of all the mites.”
Check daily for ticks, especially under the arms, in and around the ears, navel, behind the knees, between the legs, around the hairline, and on the scalp.
Pull the socks on the legs of the pants outdoors and push the shirt in.
Frequently mow the garden, remove piles of leaves and create a “tick-safe” garden.
visit eastendtickresource.org Alternatively, call 631-726-TICK for more information.
Source: Stony Brook Southampton Hospital Regional Tick-borne Disease Resource Center
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