NEWARK — Compiled results made it clear to the Village Board that residents believe the village has a deer problem.
Police Chief David Christler, who has led the investigation into the matter, said the results were “not surprising.” Surveys received from about 188 residents confirmed the deer problem is most prevalent in the southern, southeastern and southwestern portions of the village — the majority of responses reporting some kind of damage caused by deer. Results showed that 52 responders believe the village should do nothing, 87 people would like to see education and awareness efforts made by the village and 103 residents are in favor of culling the herds.
Christler said results showed about a 60-40 percent split in favor of taking some form of action. Awareness training, he said, might include better signage warning of deer, tips of what to plant and not to plant around the yard to deter deer from destroying plants, and training on how to prevent car-deer accidents. Christler said he discovered in his research that the number of car-deer accidents in the village had actually declined this year despite the boom in the deer population.
Christler was tasked earlier this year with researching the deer problem and finding potential solutions after two residents complained to the board about damage to plants. In his studies, he learned that the deer population is up across the state, not just in the village, and the reason is a 24 percent decrease in the number of hunters in New York, he said.
The police chief turned to a senior biologist with the state Department of Environmental Conservation in Avon to learn about several options for controlling deer populations in village limits. Among those potential solutions were contraception at $1,000 per deer annually; sprays that work well in residential areas; 18-foot-tall fencing for problem areas; and lethal solutions to kill off the excessive numbers. Due to the many variables involved, Christler said, it can be an expensive problem to fix — and a complex one.
“It’s too big an issue to just say go do it,” Christler said. “There’s a lot of things you have to think about.”
The board considered forming a committee of local residents to further investigate the best solution, but the idea was discouraged by village attorney Art Williams. Putting a diverse group of people together to solve an emotionally charged problem like the one before them could only cause further problems with little gain, he warned.
The board is still reviewing its options and asked Christler to take the survey results to the DEC for its recommendations on what the village’s next step should be.