Mayor Says Vasectomy Program “Best Approach We Have” to Addressing Borough’s Deer Problem
STATEN ISLAND, NY – Mayor Bill de Blasio has said he stands by his decision to use an expensive and controversial vasectomy program to reduce the deer population on Staten Island following a report from the city saying some areas have been successful, but some aspects of the program are inconclusive.
Five years after the program began, the City’s Department of Parks and Recreation Wildlife Unit released the report indicating that there has been a “significant decline” in the total deer population on Staten Island, this which could lead to a significant drop in the number if work continues.
According to the city report, the total deer population increased from about 2,053 in the first year of the project (2016 to 2017) to about 1,555 in the fourth year of the project (2019 to 2020 ), but there have long been questions about the accuracy of the deer count.
De Blasio told Advance / SILive.com that he hadn’t seen the report in detail but believed the program was the right approach to the problem.
“I certainly know what we’ve seen over the years and this is the right approach. It’s not a perfect approach, it’s just the best approach we have, ”said de Blasio.
Other options to control the deer population, such as controlled culling, which was suggested by Borough President James Oddo, would have had “unintended consequences” and “a lot of problems,” the mayor said.
“This is the best approach, and it will have more impact over time, and we will continue to fund it. We must; we have to maintain this continuity, ”he said.
The program was originally slated to cost $ 3.3 million, but it doubled to $ 6.6 million last year, and although the mayor has said it will continue to be funded, there is no guarantee that the New York City’s new mayor, who will be elected this year, to continue the program.
The cost of the program came under scrutiny when it was revealed that only 7.6% of the $ 4.1 million spent at the time was used for deer sterilization efforts.
“In a world of imperfect choices, this is the best choice and the best approach, and I think it will give more and more results every year,” he said.
In addition to the drop in the total number of deer, the report says there has been a drop in vehicle collisions involving deer, cases of Lyme disease and the number of blacklegged ticks carrying Lyme disease. .
Oddo and Borough Vice President Ed Burke called the program “the path of least resistance” and said much of the city’s data is without significant context. The Borough President sent the report to researchers at Cornell University to further analyze the data.
“Long before the pandemic our mantra at Borough Hall has been to follow the science and at first glance the data looks impressive on the total number of deer, the number of ticks, the number of accidents, on a number of metrics. that they took. to protect the trees, but it’s a bit superficial. I think before I pass judgment and give my guts a voice, I want someone expert in the matter to look at the data and come to a conclusion, ”Oddo said.
NO MONEY FOR LYME DISEASE IN STATE BUDGET AS NEW CASES INCREASE
Among the most serious impacts of a ballooning deer population on Staten Island has been an increase in Lyme disease cases.
Lyme disease is often not detected until at an advanced stage because diagnostic tests do not always detect the disease in its early stages. Symptoms such as fever and fatigue mimic other illnesses, and her circular rash appears in less than 50% of cases.
According to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of Lyme disease cases has risen to nearly 500,000, but in New York State, funding for disease prevention was removed from the budget.
After $ 1 million was earmarked in the 2018 state budget for Lyme disease research, treatment and prevention, that number fell to $ 250,000 per year and was excluded from the budget Executive of Governor Andrew Cuomo for the fiscal year 2022, the Times Union reported.
Republican Senator Sue Serino (Hudson Valley) urges lawmakers to include $ 1.5 million, which she called a “drop in the bucket,” in the budget as cases continue to rise in statewide, according to the report.
“Budgets are all priorities. It’s actually a drop in the bucket of our massive state budget and would go a long way in keeping New Yorkers healthy and tick-free, ”Serino told The Times Union.
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