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Mamaroneck Debates Deer Density, Explores Options

Joy Reidenberg agrees with Mamaroneck Village Mayor Norman Rosenblum that the deer population needs to be reduced, but wants to see it done scientifically. Photo Credit: Brian Donnelly
Mike and Linda Julian listen to the debate over the increasing deer population, which they say is affecting their quality of life. Photo Credit: Brian Donnelly
Brad Goldberk is one of five members of a Village of Mamaroneck committee exploring how to deal with an increasing deer population. He addressed the issue a recent forum. Photo Credit: Brian Donnelly

MAMARONECK, N.Y. – Mike and Linda Julian are demanding something be done to curtail the perceived overpopulation of deer in Rye and Mamaroneck, which they say have become a nuisance.

Should Mamaroneck and Rye Take Action to Reduce its Deer Population?
Final Results Voting Closed

Should Mamaroneck and Rye Take Action to Reduce its Deer Population?

  • Yes. They should pursue deer culling
  • Yes. They should pursue deer sterilization
  • No. They should do nothing

The 40-year Rye residents say they’ve counted 22 deer in one block on Harbor Lane (near the Marshlands) and more than 80 within a mile of their home. They are among those providing anecdotal evidence of a spike in the number of deer in the area, which they said started 15-to-20 years ago.

“When we first moved in we had deer, but it wasn’t a problem,” said Mike, adding that they can no longer grow anything in their yard because the deer eat it. “But, now it’s gotten way out of hand.”

The couple attended a forum Friday night on the subject held by the Village of Mamaroneck and City of Rye. Neither have made any decisions on what action, if any, to take, Mamaroneck Mayor Norman Rosenblum said.

“I think that people who want to kill something beautiful because they ate their roses need to rethink what life is all about,” said Town of Mamaroneck resident Connie Mogull, 79, who also attended the forum and added she has not noticed any increase. “I think it’s disgusting and makes this a horrible place to live.”

Two members of the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and one from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) spoke about the options available if the municipalities choose to take action, which include different methods of sterilization or deer culling.

“When a community starts talking about culling, it becomes very controversial very fast,” said Allen Gosser, state director of animal and plant health inspection services for the USDA. “We focus on the damage aspect and what the community wants.”

Among those damages, Gosser said, are deer/car collisions and agricultural damage, which the experts speaking at the forum said can impact the entire ecosystem.

Some residents say the problem is only in certain areas, like the Marshlands in Rye and the Orienta and Shore Acres neighborhoods in the village. Gina Von Eiff lives in downtown Mamaroneck and said this isn’t her problem.

“Who’s complaining?” she asked rhetorically during the public comment portion of the meeting. “It’s the super wealthy on the water. It’s not me… So we have to quantify it, we have to identify the problem before we fix it.”

Many residents echoed Von Eiff’s call for accurate numbers. Rye City Mayor Joe Sach said Westchester County has done its own counts, but that the city will hire groups to do another within its borders. Both he and Rosenblum have called on the county to implement its existing deer management program in Rye and Mamaroneck. The program currently allows bowhunting in five parks in Yorktown Heights, North Salem, Pound Ridge and Katonah.

“Bowhunting continues to be the most effective method to reduce the deer population in our county parks while still maintaining visitor safety,” according to the county’s 2013 Adaptive Deer Management Program Report.

Kiley Blackman, of Animal Defenders of Westchester, asked the DEC and USDA experts at the forum to stop using words like "culling" and "harvest" and "say what it is; it's killing."

Rye resident Joy Reidenberg, former president of Friends of Read Wildlife Sanctuary in Rye, agrees culling is needed. But, she doesn’t want to see it done in sensitive areas like the Wildlife Sanctuary.

“We need to do it scientifically, we need to do it accurately, we need to know how much to do it," she said. “We don’t want to get rid of every deer. They’re part of our landscape.”

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