DOH Reponds to Deer Hunter Concerns


Preliminary results have been released from the New York State Department of Health on the 4-Poster Deer and Tick Study, which was organized by Cornell University and compares the level of pesticides in meat from deer taken on Shelter Island to that of meat from North Haven deer.

Last week at the North Haven Board of Trustees meeting, board members discussed the preliminary study, which mayor Laura Nolan received from James Doherty, supervisor of the Town of Shelter Island.

The 4-Poster device is a passive feeding station that is designed to control ticks that take advantage of deer as hosts — including black-legged ticks and lone star ticks. These types of ticks can transfer Lyme disease. As a deer feeds on the corn bait at a 4-poster station, the animal’s neck, head and ears brush against the rollers of the device, which are coated with an oily liquid containing the permethrin. The stations are currently in use locally only on Shelter Island and Fire Island.

The Cornell study measures the levels of the tick-killing pesticide permethrin in deer meat, liver and hides and it reveals that the pesticide was found in small dosages in meat from North Haven deer and in a slightly higher amount in the Shelter Island deer.

“They found that there was a small amount of permethrin in the deer in North Haven,” said Nolan. She added that this small amount could be due to residents who spray their lawn with the pesticide in an attempt to reduce the number of ticks in their backyards.

Or, she said, the deer are swimming across the water from Shelter Island to North Haven.

The New York State Department of Health (DOH) said that hunters became concerned during the 4-Poster evaluation process about the potential health risks from exposure to permethrin from eating the meat from these deer. The preliminary study reports that people who eat the deer meat, however, would not be affected by the small amount of this pesticide found in the deer.

The release from the DOH said that in order to determine the levels of permethrin in and on deer, 10 deer known to feed at a 4-poster device, in addition to five deer from a comparison area [North Haven], will be harvested and sampled during the hunting season each year as part of the multi-year study.

Cornell University began implementing the feeding stations on Shelter Island last spring.


Above: a deer at a 4-poster treatment feeder