North Haven Residents Call for Tick Abatement



Josephine DeVincenzi used to be an avid birder, but now she avoids the woods in North Haven, fearful of contracting Lyme Disease for the fourth time.

She is by no means alone.

Virtually all of DeVincenzi’s neighbors have contracted Lyme Disease or another tick borne illness at least once, if not multiple times. Even worse, her partner Jan Scanlon developed a life-threatening allergy to meat and dairy after being bitten by a Lone Star tick. In the last eight years, Scanlon has been rushed to the hospital almost a dozen times as a result of the affliction, twice in anaphylactic shock.

Calling the impact tick borne illnesses are having on residents in North Haven — a known hot spot for ticks — a “public health crisis,” on Monday night DeVincenzi urged the North Haven Village Board to explore implementing a “4-Poster” program in the village.

“As you know, North Haven Village served as the control for the 4-Poster Study on Shelter Island that studied tick infestation,” said DeVincenzi. “After three years of study, they found a significant decline in the tick population — a 95-percent decline.”

“While there is no perfect solution to the problem,” she added, “I am here on behalf of myself and the North Haven Manor’s Home Owners Association to demand the village find the means to implement the 4-Poster Program and abate our tick infestation.”

PA210031According to Dan Gilrein of Cornell Cooperative Extension, which completed the 4-Poster study in Shelter Island in 2011, DeVincenzi is correct. The study did show tick populations could be controlled over time and significantly reduced using 4-Poster devices. The duel feeding stations are designed to apply the insecticide permethrin to the necks, head, ears and shoulders of deer which are forced to rub up against applicator rollers as they feed at the stations. The permethrin is then transferred to other parts of the body as the deer grooms itself.

According to Gilrein, Cornell Cooperative Extension completed the study to help the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) make an informed decision on whether the state should allow communities to use 4-Poster devices for tick abatement and to what extent.

Gilrein said earlier this year, the DEC did decide to allow permits for 4-Poster devices, but only in Nassau and Suffolk counties and not in upstate New York. The DEC does require a four-year study of deer ecology as well as the tick population in order to gain a permit.

Gilrein added that while 4-Poster systems can be erected on private properties they must be monitored by someone with training.

“It’s a new technology that people have to learn how to use successfully,” he said.

“We know this helps to control ticks and perhaps it is also raising awareness about the role of the deer population in relation to tick borne illnesses,” added Gilrein. “It has also highlighted the need for more information and the importance of personal protection.”

On Monday night, DeVincenzi said she believes the time for study has passed and that because of Cornell’s work there is proof that the 4-Poster program could have a real impact on the lives of people in North Haven.

“How many more people need to be impacted,” she asked. “How many more health care dollars will be spent treating the illness instead of eradicating or reducing the major source of the problem?”

“You are the officials we elected to safeguard our community and the people living in it,” DeVincenzi later added. “Myself and others believe you have fallen short of the objective. We have a Lyme Disease epidemic here and we need action now.”

Nodding his head as DeVincenzi spoke, North Haven Village Board Member George Butts said he has had Lyme Disease about seven times and it is a widespread problem.

“My husband has had it, my daughter had it,” added board member Diane Skilbred.

However, Skilbred noted she had read implementing a 4-Poster program would cost about $1 million.

“How much is it costing us now,” asked DeVincenzi. “We are spending millions on tests, treatments, on trying to protect ourselves, but it is haphazard. We have to have a comprehensive plan.”

DeVincenzi added that she believed residents in North Haven Village would happily pay a little more each year in taxes in order to be protected.

“Tell me what you need, how many petitions you need to get signed and I will do it,” she said.

Board member Jeff Sander said he believed this was a valid concern and something the board should research, immediately, with DeVincenzi’s help.

“Let’s look at some data,” he said.

DeVincenzi said she would also seek to bring an expert on 4-Poster devices to the board’s August 7 meeting.

“I have given up going into the woods and enjoying nature,” she said. “I have just given it up.”

Photos courtesy of the Cornell Cooperative Extension.



  1. The deer epidemic caused the Lyme epidemic. In 1930 there were 300,000 deer in the US. Now there are 30 million. The 4-posters reduce deer tick populations but are very expensive and serve to increase the deer population. On Monhegan Island Maine there was a Lyme epidemic but it was ended when they got rid of the deer. Lyme has caused much suffering and misery. We no longer enjoy going outdoors. The powerful animal rights lobby, such as the SPCA, has been Lyme’s great facilitator as it has spread pro-deer propaganda and prevented us from ending this plague.

  2. thank you, alexander. Lyme and other tick-borne diseases are INCURABLE NEUROLOGICAL DISEASES. Not what you want to have around your family. I don’t even wish these awful diseases on the deer advocates, who are responsible for the spread of tick-borne diseases.

  3. Thank you for this important article. Lyme is curable, but not easily. What has helped our family navigate this terrible mine field is Mara Williams’s book, Nature’s Dirty Needle,, and Katina Makris’s, Out of the Woods, Ms. Makris will be here in the Hamptons and speaking at several venues mid-August.

    Lyme is the great impostor, and if you live here, you may also want to look at this list of symptoms, to consider that you may already be infected.

  4. Saggish, you are right. The deer-huggers try for instance to blame the epidemic on the mice. However, the adult egg-laying deer tick requires a sizeable mammal, usually a deer, to provide a large blood meal for reproduction. It will not feed on a rodent. 90% feed on deer. This is why eliminating the deer breaks the cycle: no eggs, no immature forms which feed on mice, no Lyme. The deer-huggers also say that other mammals such as raccoons would take the deer’s place. Raccoons, however, groom themselves very effectively, eating the ticks, and don’t travel around in herds. Raccoon overpopulation ends through disease outbreaks such as rabies. Deer-huggers also say thinning the deer herd doesn’t work but this is true only when the numbers are not brought down enough. Deer populations can double in 1-2 years. It must be an ongoing battle.

  5. Public health officials have downplayed the Lyme epidemic. Although early treatment is key, most victims never see the tick or the rash. The CDC notes that 10-20% of those treated go on to develop chronic symptoms anyway. An increasing number have more than one tick-borne infection. The 6/21/12 New England Journal of Medicine reports that babesia infections, which are now almost as common as Lyme disease in some areas, have been fueled by the expansion of the deer population and that eliminating deer populations sharply reduces the risk of infection.

  6. As the chair of the East End Lyme Disease Awareness Campaign (, I would like to express my support of the proposed deer abatement program in North Haven. Our local population has been affected by tick borne illnesses for generations (yes, I did say generations) and each year we can have over 200,000 unsuspecting visitors subject to infection that most physicians are not trained to diagnose or treat properly.

    While Lyme most well-known, it is actually one of a myriad of co morbid infections that are transmitted through tick bite. Patients, Lyme Literate Doctors and Activists refer to this ‘Lyme Soup’. The most common of these infections are caused by Babesia, Erlichiosis, Bartonella, Mycoplasma and Q fever.

    On a daily basis, myself and my volunteers, see the faces and hear the stories of patients on the East End whose entire lives have been devastated by Lyme and the Associated Tick Borne Diseases. I was and still am one of those patients. They are so very sick, often undiagnosed, desperate for help, unable to get proper treatment due to the politicization of this illness and the lack of education as a result of this divide. They are physically, emotionally and mentally exhausted and very often financially ruined by their illnesses.

    The next great epidemic is (and has been) here and it has already cost more millions of dollars in health care costs and social services. Four more years is too long to have to wait and the million dollar price tag is cheap compared to the alternative.

  7. The Lyme epidemic has been hushed up by those not wanting to adversely affect tourism or real estate values. In addition, CT Attorney General Richard Blumethal documented the fact that some physicians on the payroll of the health insurance industry wrote up the legal treatment guidelines which allowed the insurance companies to profit by denying coverage. Ticks from one deer produce 450,000 eggs per season which develop into larvae and then nymphs which are hosted by mice. Most human infections are by the poppy-seed size nymphs, so easy to miss, a perfect bio-weapon. Although 4-posters may have a supplementary role, the real answer is to end the deer epidemic. Tragically, groups such as the SPCA make sure that animals have more rights than we do. Human beings wuld not be allowed to spread around diseases resulting in ruined careers, missed childhoods, and destroyed lives. That would be called biological warfare.

  8. I have heard of a product called damminex (check out this website… I don’t know if this product kills the tick or kills their ability to reproduce. It sounds like a good plan to start at the bottom eliminating the ticks ability to reproduce. If county and state(s) worked together to provide these tubes to homeowners we could essentially eliminate the tick population without spraying or decimating the deer. Though thinning the deer herds sure sounds good too! Perhaps a combination of several methods is the best solution, but surely the gov’t needs to be involved with public outreach & education.

  9. Diane, the tick tubes are helpful and I agree that multiple methods should be used. Unfortunately, chipmunks also carry Lyme and in this case the tubes don’t help because chipmunks don’t use nesting material.

  10. Since the deer and their deer ticks are the problem, it makes much more sense to invite in the hunters who actually pay for the privilege. Deer populations double in 1-2 years, and this means millions and millions for 4-posters down the road. Of course the deer-huggers violently oppose deer culling as noted in today’s Boston Globe. When it was necessary to thin the vegetation-destroying deer herd to prevent soil erosion from degrading the quality of Boston drinking water in Quabbin Reservoir, the deer-huggers chained themselves to MDC office radiators in protest. These sadistic activists don’t care about human health and safety.

  11. Jane,

    Nice plug, but spraying for ticks is completely useless.

    Nearly all of my neighbors spray, poisoning the air and water, and nearly all of them have had Lyme, simply because spraying leads to a false sense of confidence that the problem has been solved.

    I live in North Haven have never sprayed and no one in my family (and I have two young children) has had Lyme. Spraying is useless. You need to check yourself every single night regardless, so what is the point?

    DeVincenzi is dead on. We elect people to represent us, and this is an obvious public health issue, and nothing has been done.

    Meanwhile, Alexander Davis is completely correct regarding the deer issue. Raccoons will not simply take the place of deer as hosts. Deer support the deer tick and lone star tick populations. The ticks need to mate on their hosts to complete the final stage of their lives. In order to do this in great numbers, they need a large host like a deer. Raccoons and mice could not fill this void.

    So, what needs to be done? 4 poster in North Haven and deer population management. It has been studied and proven effective.

    What needs to stop? Constant spraying by people who are rarely here when the pesticides are being applied to their properties.

    One final point regarding landscaping. Ticks need moisture to survive. To everyone who waters their lush green lawns nightly, you are giving them the ability to live on your grass instead of only in the woods. Get rid of your leaf piles, get rid of your wood piles, and stop watering your lawn. The moisture that the ticks depend on would be greatly reduced along with their population.

    Thanks, happy we’re finally talking as a community about smart solutions to this problem.

  12. The laws need to be changed. Just as one would not allow a disease-spreading person in one’s yard, disease-spreading deer should be outlawed. The disease is spread by ticks which come from eggs,and tick eggs come from ticks on deer, not mice. The experts tell us that a deer density of around 8 per square mile is necessary to interrupt the transmission of Lyme disease. Deer could be lured to bait stations away from houses and shot by sharpshooters.

  13. Christopher… I appreciated your points about lawn watering and spraying.

    Yes, ticks also hide in the loose leaf litter at the edge of the woods for moisture. Stay away from these areas. Check for ticks nightly. Treat your pets with frontline, etc. I do not agree with spraying your lawn. It does more harm than good.

    Alexander… I need more evidence that eliminating deer would solve the problem. If they are gone, wouldn’t the ticks just find another host? Are deer helpful in any way to the ecosystem? Would elimination of deer create other issues? I am not a “deer hugger” but can’t imagine eliminating a species from an area.

    Another idea… introduce more tick eating species (natural to the area) such guinea hens and turkeys(??) !

    A tick task force needs to be created with several approaches to tick elimination (could this be virtually impossible?), public and medical education. Work together with environmental groups, local and state governments and physicians.

  14. According to Dr. Kirby Stafford of the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, whose material is featured on the CDC website, the abundance and distribution of the deer tick has been directly related to the size of the deer population. The removal of deer has been shown to substantially decrease tick abundance but it must be reduced to a level of 8 deer per square mile to interrupt disease transmission and must be maintained at this level since the deer population potentially doubles each year. Stafford has also written that it is doubtful that other animals such as raccoons could take the deer’s place since raccoons are very effective at grooming (eating the ticks). Of course if an animal like a raccoon overpopulated and then spread Lyme disease, it could always be brought under control by trapping.

  15. We certainly need a multi-pronged approach. We need to see if sterilization materials could also be placed in the deer feed on the four poster device.

    Spraying is ineffective, unless you want to live exclusively behind your deer fence. As Chris said, constant checking is critical.

    We all must work together to find the best approach and then regularly gather the data to assure it is working.

  16. 4-posters are effective because egg-laying ticks which spread Lyme disease are hosted by deer. Rather than spend increasing amounts of money on 4-posters, it makes more sense to just get rid of the deer. Deer ticks give us not only Lyme disease but also anaplasmosis and babesiosis, which can be fatal. Deer here also now host the lone star tick which gives us ehrlichiosis, tularemia, STARI, and has recently been said to give us a protein allergy which can cause anaphylaxis. Enough already.

  17. I appreciate this discussion. Lyme disease is rapidly destroying quality of life for tens of thousands of people in Suffolk county and aggressive steps need to be taken.

    It is certainly possible that the various board members and officials who are least interested in addressing the problem live in the villages and cities, not more out in the country where they are actually exposed to deer firsthand. If they were exposed, they may see for their own eyes that’s it’s a problem that needs resolved yesterday, and that we’re not simply a bunch of whiners.