North Fork Long Island Civic Associations

Deer And Tick Survey – Results Are In!

Thank you all for responding to our month-long community engagement questionnaire “Deer and Ticks:  A Southold Public Health Crisis” we posted to learn which health, economic, environmental and quality-of-life factors are most important to our community.

Below are the results and comments from 194 responses, with many people describing debilitating tick-borne illnesses and emergencies. Over 90% responded that they were very concerned with the NYS DEC 2021 Management Plan assessment that our region has “some of the most severe, widespread deer-related problems in the state” and 93.5% (182) said yes, they want Southold to take action. Our Coalition is focused on working with the Town, Suffolk County and New York State to more effectively address the serious public health, safety and environmental crises caused by our greatly excessive deer population. For more information contact: deermanagementcoalition@gmail.com

Comments From The Survey:

Add your comment on knowing anyone who has had a tick bite resulting in a tick-borne disease.

Brother got Lyme disease

Misdiagnosed and untreated for 9 years, a friend is now suffering severe cognitive dysfunction, much like cerebral palsy.

I had babesiosis, very debilitating, I wish it on no one. Chills, fatigue, and I couldn’t get out of bed for 2 weeks.

I have had Lyme disease, my son had Lyme and Babesiosis

More than half of my friends and neighbors have had a tick-borne disease including myself.

I got LYME 20 years ago, and was treated immediately and cured

friend was bitten about 20 years ago and got Lyme’s disease

I had a tick bite. It was debilitating, It was not diagnosed as Lyme, but I had all the debilitating symptoms, over lasting over several months on my return home, affecting my work ability, costing medical bills.

Family and friends – Numerous

Both myself and many friends and associates have had Lyme disease and a friend’s wife died of Lyme complications leading to systemic failure of pulmonary & coronary functions.

Two friends have been deathly sick with Lyme with long recovery periods. My partner has had multiple ticks removed. He has autoimmune issues and Lyme disease would put him at a severe health risk.

I have had Lyme disease three times

My wife has had Lyme disease twice

Too many folks to go into detail

Several years ago, an elderly neighbor contracted ehrlichiosis. This was despite having his yard treated for 3 successive months with an acaracide. He was hospitalized for 3 weeks in the ICU at Peconic Bay Medical Center and almost died. Upon his release, his family had a celebratory BBQ and several more picked up ticks in his well-manicured yard (hardly my image of “tick heaven”). This is no way for us to have to live! The natural reservoir for the responsible bacterium is the white-tailed deer. It is spread to us by lone star ticks, which can carry out their entire life cycle on the deer. There is no necessary involvement of mice.

My husband and I have both had Lyme.

I had babesiosis last summer, it was very debilitating, and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. My sister-in-law was visiting from Italy, and she was bitten, felt terrible for months, couldn’t work, undiagnosed Lyme. My brother-in-law has a house on Shelter Is and gets Lyme nearly every year.

I have several friends who now have alpha-gal and cannot eat red meat. Seven friends visited in June, two got serious tick bites sending them to urgent health care. One was in the hospital for two days, the other was ill and took antibiotics for two weeks. What a way to treat friends!

Lyme’s impact was a painful, disruptive illness requiring medication, convalescence, and long-term attention. If we can lower and practically eliminate the chances of our family, friends, and neighbors suffering this, why would we not?

Yes neurological issues

My husband had a rather bad case of Lyme and the fellow next door suffers greatly from babesiosis.

Needed IV for 6 weeks. Still struggles with joints

My son many years ago

Three people: cousin, neighbor and friend

Lyme symptoms can be confused with COVID and vice versa. We don’t need that for med professionals at this time, nor for victims.

Lyme disease – it’s prevalent in my industry because we work out-of-doors (Horticulture/Landscaping)

Myself. My father. I was just on a 42-day antibiotic treatment after getting bit by a tick. No results ever found me testing positive, but I have had Lyme before and know the symptoms. This time around it started to affect my mind and mental health which was new for me from a tick bite.

Almost everyone who visits us finds a tick on them or embedded in them. Many end up with a tick borne disease. Every family I know who lives here has had at least one tick disease

I developed Bell’s palsy related to Lyme’s disease. My mother-in-law was in the ICU with high fevers from Lyme, Ehrlichiosis and babesiosis. She developed all three infections at the same time. Thankfully both of us have fully recovered.

A neighbor almost died from babesiosis, I had ehrlichiosis. Everyone I know has had at least one tick borne disease.

I hv had Lyme disease several times

Family members with Lyme’s disease

Person in question can no longer eat red meat

My ENTIRE family has been adversely affected by tick-borne diseases, so I support your efforts one thousand percent. In addition, I have had FOUR collisions with deer. I would be happy to help in any way that I can.

Lyme

I was bitten by a lone star tick and have developed an alpha gal allergy.

I know three people who are disabled by the disease.

I’ve had Lyme disease

I know several residents who have contracted Lyme disease after experiencing a Tick bite.

He is still being affected by its effects 20 years later

I’ve had Lyme 5 times in 13 years. This problem, caused by the deer infestation, has been going on for 30 years. So, no valid excuse can be made by Southold town at this point. They’ve had plenty of time to deal with it properly. They just haven’t.

My husband had Lymes Disease 3 times that we know of. Had a neurological issue in his leg that despite exhaustive workups at the NYC Columbia Movement Center and MSK neurologists could not be identified or treated.

I have been tested for lyme every year for the last five years. Four times I had Lyme, treated with doxycycline. Our carpenter had both Lyme and babesiosis, at the same time. Very sick, treated with doxycycline

I spent 5 days in hospital this July due to kidney failure caused by Lyme disease and babesiosis

Me, multiple friends and neighbors as well.

Both my husband and I got a three-dose Lyme vaccine in 1998-1999. We have loads of deer and ticks on our property but have never contracted a tick-borne disease. While we work to cull deer, we might also work on getting a vaccine out there.

Literally every single member of my family including myself

I have had Lyme disease twice and so has my husband. my dogs have also had tick borne illnesses even though they are treated regularly with tick repellants.

Several people with the meat allergy

I developed Lyme disease. My husband had to go on medication this year due to a large tick bored in his back.

Wife and child

I have gotten both Lyme and Ehrlichiosis

Most neighbors on my street have had Lyme disease at least one time

I have had both babesiosis and Lyme Disease. Also, I know family & friends who have had Lyme disease.

The cost of treatment outside of conventions, for chronic Lyme, is incredibly expensive.

I have a tick-borne disease. Borrelia miyamotoi and most likely Babesia too. It has ruined my life for 8 years so far. The last 2 years the worst in which I only found out this is why I had my symptoms.

Myself….4 times

I got Lyme and babesiosis within 6 months of moving here.

Several people living near me have contracted Lyme disease

I have at least 20 friends plus my wife who have been bitten and got Lyme or other tick-borne disease

Our landscaper struggles with Lyme

Personally had Lyme disease twice.

I know many who have suffered from Lyme and tick-borne diseases – my wife, my brother, my sister-in-law, their children, neighbors. If it comes up in conversation with neighbors, everyone has been a victim.

Neighbor was bitten by a lone star tick and now cannot eat meat. I was bitten by a lone star tick and took antibiotics. My dog was bitten and tested positive for anaplasmosis. My dogs often get a variety of ticks and I check them regularly.

I’ve had Lyme disease. My partner has had Lyme and Rocky Mt Spotted fever. Our dog has had Lyme several times.

I had rocky mountain spotted fever, and Lyme. My partner had Lyme.

My neighbor contracted babesiosis and almost died.

I know of several people in my community who have gotten Lyme from a tick bite.

My 20-year-old son is dealing with a heart condition resulting from Lyme.

I’ve had Lyme disease.

My wife, brother in law, sister in law (2)

I have had both Lyme and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

My next-door neighbor got tick bites and is now on antibiotics to try and prevent full-blown Lyme disease!

I know many people with tick borne illnesses

He was just sitting on the grass, leaning against a tree, and was bitten.

I had babesia/babesiosis, and I know at least 4 people with alpha-gal.

Lyme, babesiosis—multiple acquaintances and family members

I have and everyone in my family

Long-term chronic Lyme’s disease. Bell’s palsy. Long-term joint pain – crippling knee pain

Southold Town has a new Find your Trail Pass which involves sending families out on our lovely local trails in the middle of tick season. Trouble is, these trails are not mowed, groomed adequately or branches trimmed back so I know people who came home with many “seed ticks” all over them and their children. We very much need the TOS DPW to groom all trails March-December. WE must keep our residents & visitors safe! Laurel Lake is a beautiful family trail used by many. But it’s one that is not kept weed-whacked (cut the grasses) or branches trimmed and poses a danger to anyone walking, which sadly, most of our beautiful trials do these days. Especially in a pandemic when we need our trails more than ever.

I have had Lyme disease four times and my partner is one of the worst cases of alpha-gal in the area. In my community in North Haven, virtually everyone had a family member who had some tick related disease. Just this year, a neighbor, and another person in the area both contracted a very serious case of babesiosis.

I got Lyme disease in June.

My spouse had bell’s palsy as a result of Lyme and separately suffered from babesiosis.

This appears to be a scare tactic / survey

myself

Myself and My wife both have had Tick borne disease along with my neighbors.

Yes, I have in the last 2 years

I ran a 104.8 fever for almost two weeks from Tularemia two years ago until a doctor was wise enough to test me for it. I was sent home 3 times out of 4 from the local ERs before the test came back. Side note: Deer Nuisance Permits use to be issued from February 1st to December 31st and this was the major tool of deer management! The bow hunters have successfully lobbied to cut back the nuisance permits to ending as of now, on September 30th. The nuisance permits harvested the majority of the deer during the months of October through December when the deer season was in session. Many, not all bow hunters are looking to harvest mature bucks, we all know that does produce up to three offspring a year. The nuisance permits are for antlerless deer, no horns over 3”! This is why we have a large increase in both the deer and the ticks! Bonus: deer harvested by permits, during the fall use to go to the Southold Town Deer Management cooler, then to food banks, not anymore! Extending the current permit season back to December 31st would help immensely. Thank you

most of the members of our family who have visited have gotten a tick born disease at least once

Myself – had Lyme’s. Treated early; no long term affects

neighbors. I had tick bite this year and my contractors continually tell me they need to remove ticks after working on my property

Family plus pets (they get tick diseases too)

I know multiple people within Chronic Lyme

3-year-old grandson, myself

My mom when we came to visit my aunt and uncle in Orient. And then finally it was diagnosed as Lyme

Myself, my son, my employer, extended family.

Some have died or become severely handicapped

Thank you! WE WELCOME YOUR COMMENTS

I am a concerned conservationist – I hit a deer once and was painfully aware that it leapt back into the woods, only possibly to be crippled, or hurt anyway. My car was damaged. Ever since then when I see a dead deer on the road, I remember the collision and wonder how many more deer were hit by cars that day/night, now crippled in the woods, dying, or starving to death. My husband hunts birds, and he says he sees the remains of deer when he hunts. I feel we humans have the knowledge and capacity to help our deer population get back in balance. We have a solution, now we much implement it.

Thanks Mark–good job

Thank you for this survey. We visitors to family in Southold want to feel assured that the town is doing something about deer and ticks

Look at Nassau Point POAs efforts as an example. Annual culling.

We live on Nassau Point that has a deer management program

I didn’t know this was a big issue. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

It was very tough to rank my concerns about our deer-related problems; they are all very serious. Our area is predominantly agricultural and residential; for the most part, it is not a forest or wilderness preserve. We should not have large herbivores (the deer) proliferating with abandon in the absence of any effective predators or other control. This is not the way Nature is supposed to work. That the deer bear primarily responsibility for sustaining astronomical populations of disease-transmitting ticks is also intolerable!

I had babesiosis last summer, it was very debilitating, and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. I’m also sickened every time I see a dead deer on the road. It reminds me of when I hit a deer, causing $2,000 in car damage, and watching the deer run into the woods — who knows if it was mangled and died some horrible death. Learning that our area has 2.5 times the national average of deer collisions mangling and killing deer is so horrible. I recently learned that a major cause of young deer death is blindness from Lyme disease (periocular tick infestations) leading to starvation. This is cruel. We have changed the balance of nature and need to be good stewards to help rebalance. We have the solutions.

If deer are not managed on an ongoing basis, tick-borne disease will continue to spread among humans, our natural environment will continue to be damaged or destroyed, and car-deer collisions will continue to increase. Humanely harvest the deer. Butcher and distribute the meat to feed the hungry. Monitor and report annually on deer and tick population, cases of tick-borne illness, state of the impacted environment. fyi, I have found ticks on my property.

Tufts University and Hastings-on-the-Hudson program

I would like to consider the most humane way to cull the deer population… perhaps sterilization

We’ve also had the unfortunate experience of a deer running out onto Main Road and striking our car, causing serious damage (and considerable expense). There are about 50 head of deer in the lot behind my house and they have ravaged anything that grows in my yard. My husband had a very serious case of Lyme, the fellow next door has babesiosis, and the ticks are ever-present. A couple of years ago, I participated in a deer head count for Southold Town, but nothing ever came of it. The Town needs to get serious about the problem ASAP.

Please get this done. Everyone I know has Lyme disease. Stops me from gardening and hiking snd really enjoying the outdoors. Thank you

Thank you for taking on this important issue.

The minute clinic (Cutchogue) insisted I get both a Lyme test along with the COVID test when I was not feeling well last winter. They said there was an equal chance I had Lyme, if not COVID. While I did not have COVID, my test revealed antibodies for tick borne Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.You should consider interviewing a generous sample of the medical clinics on the East End for their perspective on the problem in the context of COVID testing. If we can solve the deer problem, wouldn’t our focus and energy be better served toward COVID prevention and testing while we deal with this pandemic?

I live in Kings Park. We also have a deer population problem. The numbers need to come down. Sadly, contraception doesn’t work as well as culling by sharpshooters. While the non-breeding females are not reproducing, the ones which haven’t been fed or injected with contraception move into territories with lower populations and start the whole issue again. Eventually, food will not be as plentiful. This is beginning to happen on Fire Island, where the dwarf maritime forest understory has been decimated, as have the unfenced garden beds of the residents there. Death by starvation is not preferable to culling by sharpshooter. Feeding is not sustainable nor are contraceptives, and both are expensive solutions to the issue.

My most recent encounter with tick borne illness was terrifying and life changing. I incorrectly was seeing countless doctors in the city begging them to trust me on the signs of tick-borne disease. After months of sobbing in different doctors’ offices in NYC, my dad suggested I go to the Greenport hospital who had recently diagnosed him with Babesiosis when he went in thinking he was having a heart attack. My takeaway is that doctors on the north fork have more experience with tick borne diseases than doctors in nyc. The ER doctor in Greenport listened to my symptoms and immediately put me on Doxycycline. Pretty soon after my mind cleared up and the pain in all the joints of my body lessened. It was a truly terrifying experience for someone as young as myself at 32.

Thank you for organizing local community and environmental groups to join forces to force local county and State action on these deer overpopulations and tick-borne disease crisises. In the 1980’s it was safe for our children to play in our back yards. Today children are actually afraid of the grass as it holds ticks with multiple serious diseases. This is not an acceptable way to live.

We need more property owners on the North Fork to be open to deer hunting. More people need to understand the importance of deer management and the incredible negative effects that deer overpopulation not only have one people and the environment, but also on the deer themselves (i.e. starving due to lack of food sources from overpopulation).

The plan must be comprehensive- culling herds, birth control, and “deer gazebos” to treat the remaining deer, plus anything else that can help.

I already have a hunter who has asked to hunt my property.

Residents are feeding the deer on a daily basis. This should be stopped. Right on Little Neck Rd in Cutchogue.

We are animal lovers, so it’s hard to simply say “get rid of the deer by any means.” But our property is brutalized by a herd of 10+ and infested with ticks. We’re bitten all the time… and find them on our 2 small children. Is there a way to sterilize the deer? They do t seem to live long out here… and most of the population seems to be babies every year.

I would like to see Riverhead be a part of this

I’ve already been hospitalized due to deer ticks. Please take action. Immediately.

Deer management should not restrict the quantity of bucks harvested if we are actually trying to accomplish something here. If it gets more hunters interested in participating, then by all means get all the “prize bucks” you want and reduce the population. I understand part of the intent of focusing on females is their responsibility for reproduction, but why are we there limits at all if the goal is to drastically reduce the population to the recommended levels? Males are part of the equation too, right? Consider what would get more hunters interested in participating. To comment on the survey: Requiring that only one choice per column is made is cumbersome and I’m sure many gave up at that point trying to weigh which important topic is slightly less important than another equally important topic and so on…

I have invited hunters I have seen to come and hunt on my property

I’ve lived on the North Fork my whole life. The biggest effect ticks have had on me is on the trails. I no longer can take my dogs to Dam pond or any wooded trail from March-October. The amount of ticks is insane!! Walking the trails with my dogs is one of my favorite NF activities and I’ve walked them many times. The last time I went in a summer month (probably 4 years ago), I stopped for a second on the trail and I literally could see the ticks swarming my feet and my dogs were covered. I couldn’t believe how fast the ticks could move. We left quick and I probably pulled 75 ticks off of them. If you think deer are the reason for all of these ticks, then I back a plan to manage the deer.

Do we have to shoot them? Can’t they put tranquilizer and then put down humanely as you would with a sick dog.

thank you. Have seen nothing in Suffolk Times, Patch or Beacon about the survey. Are Town Board meetings talking this up or on the websites?

Thanks for working on this. I have lived on the north fork off and on for 50 years and the increase in deer over the past 5-8 years is unprecedented.

We have to do something, it is out of control

ACTION is needed NOW.

I’m a hunter — of birds and mushrooms. I see deer mangled on the side of the road. How many more were hit and crippled, limping off only to die of starvation? It’s cruel that vehicles have become our “management technique.” Lengthening the season, opening up more lands to hunt, training programs, using all practices available to us — this will help. We need to help Nature rebalance.

As a small homeowner and bordering woods then a golf course, the deer are constantly either on the golf course property or on the adjacent privately owned properties. I continually spray Deer Out or Repels on the plants/bushes that they are constantly eating. These products never get the chance to grow to maturity. I’m preparing a new area this upcoming week and I had to rethink my idea of plants. I had to go from flowering plants that bloom all summer, that the deer love or something that only flowers in spring, then stays green the rest of the year but the deer don’t like to eat this one

The deer issues on the north fork are completely out of control. We believe that there are humane veterinary measures available to help manage the population. We see little being done.

This is a manageable problem; the town must act now. We can help.

Farming is our economy here. I read the farming article. Farmers are protecting themselves from deer destroying crops and creating a food safety issue. I don’t blame them. Fencing is a costly but needed protection for farms. But the growing deer pop. is now concentrating in our gardens, lawns, on our roads. Deer are wildlife and deserve our respect, care, and conservation to help everything stay in balance. Here on the EE, the economy is our environment. We need to work to keep everything in balance and thriving to have a thriving economy. That includes thriving farms, thriving pollinators and wildlife, thriving woods to filter water to our aquifer, thriving coastal waters with oyster farms — all adding to our region’s ability to regenerate.

Tired of all the talk: DO SOMETHING NOW!

These are New York State’s deer, and they have absolutely failed to control the overpopulation. They should pay for and direct massive deer culls that take out much of the deer population right away. Next, they should make sure the population is kept low by determining how many deer need to be killed on an annual basis to meet target deer densities per square mile, and then subtract the numbers taken by recreational and nuisance hunters. The remainder is the number that need to be culled annually. It’s really not rocket science. Southold Town should consider paying a bounty to hunters for their antlerless kills. NYS should allow crossbow hunting in Southold Town, instead of just upstate.

We need the Town to groom local trails well. We need tall grasses cut, branches trimmed back regularly on these trails, to make it less likely that ticks will find hosts as we enjoy the natural beauty of out trails. The ecology is being detrimentally affected by the overrun deer population. Driving at dusk or early morning is very scary. Most of all, we need to be able to go to our beautiful public accessible places here in TOS without putting our lives at risk. Strongly need the DPW to truly work on our trails, especially the most used ones, to cut back tail grasses & branches so we do not become ill.

Please contact the mayor of North Haven, Jeff Sanders, who did a masterful job of leading our community through this very difficult work. He not only educated the community; he also was able to get support for action.

I would like to see immediate Deer culling, even if it means baiting and luring deer to a place where they can be killed. Hunting means sportsmanship, no baiting, etc. This is deer CULLING, and it is by necessity, ruthless. NO season, no quotas. Cull as much as possible as soon as possible. Just do it humanely, and donate the meat to the food pantry.

Harder to give 100% support without knowing anything about the management plan.

Please refer to my comments from “tick bite results”. Have DEC extend the Nuisance Permits back to December 31st again! Thank you.

so angry at no action being taken by the town

I would like to know how locals can source the meet from local deer hunting

I and my next-door neighbor welcome another neighbor who hunts to use our property. Prefer someone we know/trust to hunt responsibly. Don’t like in this survey that where there are multiple questions within the group cannot indicate more than one level of concern – i.e cannot say that more than one level is of high (or low) concern – ranking makes no sense to me.

quick response is needed to fix this problem annually

We live in Jamesport but my kids attend summer camp in Southold- both at the Audubon trail and Peconic Dunes- where ticks present a real problem. My 5-year-old is so well versed in tick checks she can almost do it without me- even though she’s not yet reading or tying her shoes!

Please take action now! I’m a bit nervous about visiting my aunt and uncle in Orient because I’m afraid of ticks. My mom got a tick bite, and felt terrible for months, until it was finally diagnosed as Lyme.

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