SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) – When talking about deer, people think of Rudolph, they think of Bambi and even them wandering around the backyard. While this is good, there is also the bad from them: “deer in headlights,” eating your gardens and deer ticks.
Deer overpopulation has ridden Syracuse for a number of years. Wildlife biologist for the Department of Environment Conservation (DEC) Jeremy Hurst says our area needs attention.
“In the southeastern part of the state and a sliver of central New York, we are calling for deer populations to decrease,” Hurst said.
In the early stages of 2019, a committee of community members, professionals in the field, doctors and city officials created a plan to cure the deer and tick population. On Dec. 1, it entered its third year.
Overseeing this program all three years is Commissioner of the Syracuse Parks Department Julie LaFave.
The Deer Management Program is separate from the Deer Management Program (DMP) the DEC operates (those are the antlerless tags given out to hunters). Instead, Syracuse hires the USDA to help prevent overpopulation.
“The USDA are trained personnel to do USDA activities,” LaFave said.
These trained personnel are NRA certified sharpshooters. It will operate in undisclosed locations around Syracuse from dusk until about 2 a.m. Because of operating at night, the sharpshooters will use suppressors to minimize the noise.
LaFave said the USDA can be in the area until the end of March, but it is at their discretion with the amount of deer they have taken.
“We are given a certain number of tags, and if the USDA run out, we request more and we are given them,” LaFave said.
After all these deer are harvested, the meat is sent off to a better place. All the meat is donated to the local homeless shelters, and over 16,000 meals have been donated so far.
“In addition to hopefully having an impact on the tick population, we are feeding some people,” LaFave said.
People in Syracuse are aware this is going on, but the reasons behind the culling are much more than just preventing ticks and bucks ending up through your windshield.
“So we’re also doing the education piece of it too because we know that we are not just gonna solve the problem just by deer culling,” LaFave said.
Some quick tips from LaFave about ticks: when going into the woods make sure your bare skin is covered, try to wear light colored clothes (for ticks to be seen easier) and complete a full tick check after you get in from the woods.
Jeremy Hurst from the DEC said to not feed the deer you see in the city so they do not become more domesticated.
For more information about deer and ticks in New York you can visit the DEC website at dec.ny.gov.