Monday, May 22, 2006

NEW YORK NEWS: Deer impacts task force formed

A new task force has been formed to deal with issues caused by the burgeoning population of white-tail deer in Westchester, County Parks Commissioner Joseph A. Stout has announced.

The organization, called the Westchester County Forest Regeneration Citizens’ Task Force will be headed by Greenburgh resident William S. Greenawalt. The group will study current research on deer population, including deer counts and other data, to develop a strategy that county parks staff, municipal officials and private property owners can use in the management of deer-related problems. While hunting has always been prohibited in county parks, carefully regulated and monitored deer culling will be discussed as a possible means of reducing the number and size of deer herds.
The task force comprises representatives from a wide range of organizations including The Nature Conservancy, the Humane Society, Audubon New York, Teatown Lake Reservation, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Mianus River Gorge, Pace University Environmental Center and Federated Conservationists of Westchester County.

“If you live in Westchester chances are you’ve been affected by white-tail deer in some way, whether they’ve chewed on your shrubs, or darted out in front of your car at night, or even if you’ve just enjoyed watching them grazing at the edge of a forest,” Stout said. “They’re beautiful to look at but conservation advocates have strongly advised us that deer over-population has a significant negative impact on the health of our forests.”

Stout said that the idea to form a task force on the white-tailed deer was conceived during the Park’s Department’s annual “Conversations on Conservation” conference, a program that brings together public and private conservation advocates and experts, municipal planners and private citizens to discuss and develop solutions to challenging environmental issues. He said the conference made it clear that the white-tail deer today is fairly universally considered nuisance wildlife and that a regional strategy was needed. The conference organizers approached County Executive Andy Spano who endorsed the formation of the task force but at the same time charged the county’s Parks and Planning departments to develop a deer-management program and plan of action to be used in the county parks, to be completed within half a year.