Letters to the Editor (8/30/12)


A Real Find

Dear Editor,

Recently it was time to say goodbye to my wonderful 18+year old Jack Russell…Corky.

Some time ago a friend recommended a local Veterinarian, Dr. Pepper  of Village Mobile Veterinary Service. Having Dr. Pepper come to my home made a difficult situation easier. He explained each step, was professional and gentle with little Corky.

He has since returned to treat Gracie, a mixed breed rescue (hound from Hell) who is plagued every summer with a severe yeast infection.

Dr. Pepper gave Gracie a very through examination asking all the pertinent questions, diagnosing her ailment and putting her on the correct medications. I am happy to say Gracie is on her way to good health.

Dr. Pepper runs a tight schedule but allows you plenty of time. He is prompt with his appointments and rates are reasonable.

Occasionally one comes across a real find. I found just that in Dr. Pepper

Kathleen Griffin

East Hampton


Too Many Deer


Dear Editor:

North Haven’s plan to address the tick problem by feeding deer while applying pesticide may create new problems while ignoring the root issue: We have too many deer.

Local populations of deer are estimated to be at least twenty times ‘natural’ carrying capacity, the sustainable levels found in healthy environments with normal predation. A healthy herd would be less than one deer for every five acres where on the East End we have at least four deer per acre.

Deer overpopulation is an environmental catastrophe. A quick drive or walk around North Haven, or virtually anywhere else, shows how deer have stripped the forest to the browse line, thwarting any possibility of new growth. The dearth of new plant life has a cascade effect on the whole ecosystem, wiping out native insects and birds.

Local naturalist Hugh McGuinness states that deer overpopulation has become “the single most important factor reducing biodiversity on Long Island, displacing development.”

The most dangerous animal in North America isn’t the bear or the shark: Deer are far more deadly. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, every year one million car crashes with deer kill 200 Americans, cause more than 10,000 injuries, and result in $1 billion in vehicle damage. By comparison, bears have killed 28  people in the last decade where the much-maligned sharks have only taken out ten. On the East End we have already lost several drivers to accidents with deer, and collisions are now routine.

Then of course deer are the vector for terrifying tick-borne disease. My own spouse suffered from Bell’s palsy thanks to Lyme disease and more recently the frightening malaria-like Babesiosis. In our household we think of the local deer, beautiful though they may be, as somewhat akin to the rats that carried the Bubonic plague and wonder why they are not treated accordingly.

Reducing the deer population is the most effective long-term solution for getting rid of tick-borne diseases. At a study site in Bridgeport, Connecticut the deer population was reduced by 74 percent and the number of nymphal ticks, which spread disease, dropped by 94 percent. The deer population on Mohegan Island in Maine was eliminated and within three years Lyme disease virtually disappeared.

Overabundant deer are also prone to prion diseases of mad cow fame. Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) has spread from mule deer to our white-tailed population and reached New York State in 2005. Our East End deer density almost assures its eventual arrival here.

Adding more pesticide to the natural environment is almost always a bad idea. It is expensive, dangerous, and will ultimately fail. Permethrin is a broad-spectrum chemical that kills indiscriminately. It can harm beneficial insects and is extremely toxic to aquatic life. What happens if a Permethrin-laden deer goes for a swim in a nearby pond? Or the bay?

Permethrin may not be used within 100 yards of a house or where children are present. Will these rules be strictly enforced? But then, deer wander.

Evidence in Lyme, Connecticut – whence Lyme disease – has shown that although the 4-poster devices reduce tick population the infection rates of the remaining ticks actually go up, with no clear impact on disease spread.

So what is the solution? Reintroducing wolves is not at all feasible on crowded Long Island. But unleashing the deer’s next most effective predator, the human hunter, has clear impact. In controlled hunts, licensed professionals are invited to cull herds, targeting does. After such a hunt the deer population in Mumford Cove dropped from almost 80 deer per square mile to about ten per square mile over two years. The lower population was kept down by bow-hunters. Incidence of Lyme disease among residents dropped 83 percent and remains low. Not only was the solution effective, it was cheap: Hunters typically volunteer.

For those who are uncomfortable with hunting, I ask which is worse for the deer: A quick death by a predator – whether a wolf’s teeth or a hunter’s bow – or a slow death by starvation or disease? It seems to me that the deer evolved for the former and are better suited to predation. Clearly so is our environment.

I urge Sag Harbor, North Haven, and the whole East End to put together a comprehensive plan to drastically and dramatically cut down the deer population by using controlled hunts as part of the solution. I also urge that we avoid placing more expensive, ineffective, and dangerous pesticides into our environment.

Thank you.

Ken Dorph

Sag Harbor


What’s Reasonable?


Dear Bryan,

When Congressman Tim Bishop addressed the Thursday night meeting of the Noyac Civic Council, he promised to sit down with all parties to the dispute until a “reasonable” resolution could be worked out. What, I asked him, did he think would be reasonable?

Throughout the evening all the elected officials in attendance, as well as most of the residents, spoke as if what was needed was a balancing of the rights of two opposing groups, the helicopter operators and the residents whose lives are becoming intolerable from the repeated forays of helicopters over their roofs.

There are not, in fact, two opposing but equal interests here.

Property owners hold fundamental rights to the peaceful enjoyment of their property.  “Peaceful enjoyment” is a term that goes back to the beginnings of law in England and has been a principle of American law since our country was founded. The right of property ownership is a right to peaceful enjoyment of the property.

We pay property taxes to support and enforce this basic right. Fire and police protection, road maintenance — all these services are to sustain our peaceful enjoyment of our property.

The helicopter transportation industry, unlike property owners, has no rights .

Driving on public roads, for example, is not a right, but a privilege. The state permits the use of its roads subject to compliance with certain rules and regulations set by the state. Compliance requires drivers to obtain licenses, maintain vehicles to the state’s standards, and insure them as prescribed by the state in order to win this privilege. Any municipality can, if it so chooses, withhold the privilege of using its air space without violating or abridging anyone’s rights.

Therefore, the interests of the property owners with fundamental rights to peaceful enjoyment of their property, and the interests of the helicopter industry which has no rights are not comparable interests; they do not stand in the same category. There is, therefore, no need of “balancing” these two interests. The helicopter industry exists on the East End at the suffrance of the municipality and can operate only when permitted to do so. It should never be permitted to infringe the basic fundamental rights of property owners to the peaceful enjoyment of their property. Indeed, anyone proposing to violate such a fundamental right must demonstrate an overriding state interest that would be served before any permit to violate such rights can be issued.

Just as the state forbids the use of cars that do not meet pollution standards, local governments can forbid the use of helicopters that cannot fly safely at altitudes that keep ALL noise from interfering with our basic rights; altitudes that, studies have shown, are in the neighborhood of 5,000 feet. Any helicopter operator that cannot employ helicopters that comply with our standards, cannot be permitted to fly in the air space over our homes.

This is why it is utterly beside the point for residents to be doing data collection and surveys for the Town of East Hampton’s airport. The airport keeps its own logs of which helicopters take off, when, and in what direction. They know better than any resident how many are flying over our homes. The number of people calling in to complain does not matter: If even only one person’s basic right to peaceful enjoyment is violated, the helicopter doing so is in violation of fundamental property rights. There are not two sets of rights to be balanced. Property owners are the only ones with fundamental rights at stake here.

The East Hampton Airport liaison indicated that Noyac is a good place to violate people’s peaceful enjoyment of their property because it is a low-density residential area. What could be more cynical? The residents of Noyac are already driven to distraction and despair as they are unfairly burdened by noise from East Hampton and have no vote to cast in order to make their voices heard in East Hampton elections. To burden these residents further by asking them to keep a log throughout the day of each and every infringement of their property rights lays the burden on the wrong people. It is enough for the airport to know how many flights they send over Noyac; how many individuals are having their rights thereby infringed is not a question that should concern us.

At the meeting, a resident pointed out that Southampton already has a Noise Abatement law, and asked why that is not being enforced against the helicopter operators. Astonishingly, a member of the Southampton Town Board replied that the town currently lacks enforcement mechanisms for its noise abatement ordinance. She seemed to suggest that enforcement would require the town to buy its own helicopters to pursue and ground offending ones operated by the industry.

What nonsense! An audio device located on the ground can record the noise level at several locations and register the time of the violation. The airport’s own flight records will reveal the offending pilot. If the Town passes legislation to impose a severe penalty on flights that violate the basic rights to property owners, that is enforcement and it is well within the capability of the Southampton Town Board if it can summon the political will to do so. As Mayor Ed Koch once pointed out: If we had a law in New York City allowing us to shoot double parkers, we’d only have to do so once and all New York’s traffic problems would go away. The fine has to be sufficient to severely injure the businesses of those who flout the law. An elected official who does not understand that financial penalties are a means of enforcement should surrender her office.

What will happen if Southampton Town drags its feet in passing enforcement legislation? For starters, we will all wonder if our elected officials are deriving some personal benefit from the pilots and the helicopter industry such that they actually view the property rights of citizens and the privileges of helicopter companies as of equal significance. Ultimately, Noyac residents will be compelled to place their property taxes in escrow pending passage of appropriate legislation. Enforcement of the right to quiet enjoyment of one’s property is the sine qua non of property ownership; it is the reason all local government is in place to begin with.

When Congressman Bishop meets with the various players to reach a reasonable resolution, he should understand what will pass as a “reasonable” outcome in the eyes of his constituents.

Susan Pashman

Sag Harbor