By Tammy Whitacre
NEWARK — After taking a hard look at the results from a community survey, a senior biologist with the state Department of Environmental Conservation said the village doesn’t have a deer “problem,” but a deer “nuisance.”
This past summer, Police Chief David Christler was tasked to learn more about an increase in the deer population in the village after Newark received complaints about damage to gardens and plants. Since then, Christler has collected information from the DEC and thoughts from residents about whether a problem exists and, if so, what to do about it. A community survey with 224 responses showed residents believed a problem existed and a 60 percent of them felt the village should take some form of action.
An emotional issue, solutions to the problem range from education and awareness to reducing the herds — a measure many people strongly oppose. To help make a final decision, the board sought the advice of the DEC.
Christler presented the data he collected, including survey responses and car/deer crash statistics in the village since 2007, to DEC Senior Biologist Arthur Kirsch, the Region 8 authority on white tail deer. No stranger to the issue at hand, Kirsch has worked with many towns in the area to alleviate deer problems, Christler said. According to Kirsch, the split between saving the deer and culling the herd is relatively typical. He also warned that any attempt to resolve the matter will take 10 years or possibly more and that it’s vital that the village work with the community to make it work.
“(Kirsch) said there is no magic bullet,” Christler shared in his report to the board.
In Kirsch’s opinion, “Newark does not appear to have a deer problem but a nuisance.”
He cited the low number of car-deer accidents, which average 14 a year, only moderate damage to plants and healthy looking deer herds when drawing his conclusions. Mixed with a relatively low number of respondents, Kirsch didn’t feel Newark had deer problem now, but that it could in the future if it doesn’t take some steps.
His recommendations include education and awareness training for residents, monitoring deer-related accidents, using spray repellents on moderately dense populations in the village, working with land owners bordering the village to increase the deer take for both sexes, and watching for signs of over grazing or starvation.
The board is reviewing Christler’s report to determine what their next step should be.