OB Community Funds Says Thanks and An Expert Weighs-In on FINS Deer Mamangement

To the Editor,The Ocean Beach Community Fund held it’s annual fundraiser on Aug. 1. and it was a huge success. The theme this year was “Dressing is fine but Pajamas are divine”. With a beautiful sunset, serving cocktails & clam bar, great music & wonderful food gave this night a special twist with fire works on the bay. We would like to thank those who helped make this the special night that it was.A special thank you to Jen Morano of Matthews for helping to pull this event together by get the Fire Island Food purveyors to donate food for our fund raiser. Big Geyser, U.S. Foods, Barboy, Sysco Foods, J, Kings & Zeigal Clam (clam bar, ) Rachel of Rachel’s Bakery for her wonderful Gingerbread cake rendition of the Windswept Building.A warm & heart felt thank you to all of the restaurants and stores who prepared the food, donated liquor and beverages. With out your help these fundraisers would not be made possible: The Albatross, Bocce Beach, Castaways Bar & Grill, C J’s, The Hideaway, Houser’s, The Island Mermaid, The Landing, Mermaid Market, Maguire’s, Matthews, Matty’s Market, Michael’s Restaurant’e, Sand Bar, Town Pizza, Wes Little – Seaview Market, Ocean Beach Trading, The Pantry, and Patsy North.Also thanks to The Palms Hotel for linen services, Chief George Hess & the O.B. P. D., Kevin Schelling & his staff for putting up the snow fencing (& great fans,) David Jones for moving every one & picking up the food, Fire Island Ferries, All those who were behind the “curtains” and I hope I did not miss any one. Last but not least the entire Ocean Beach Community Fund Board who volunteers every year to make these events happen.Sincerely,Gail StamlerJen MoranoThe O.B.C.F. Food CommitteeTo the Editor:As a member of the original research team that began the PZP immunocontraception study in 1993, I have serious concerns about Fire Island National Seashore’s (FIIS) Draft Deer Management Plan.The National Park Service (NPS) starts with worthy goals: to protect the Seashore’s unique natural and cultural resources, manage a healthy deer herd, educate the public about deer and deer-human interactions, and minimize harmful interactions between deer and people.And because of the Seashore’s particular mosaic of communities and natural areas, the potential movement of deer between them, and the history of intense interaction between deer and human residents and visitors, the challenges faced by the NPS in reaching those goals are considerable.But they haven’t even given themselves a chance. Squandering a quarter-century of experience grappling with deer issues on FIIS, the NPS has produced a top-down vision strikingly removed from its own history with the place, its deer, its people and the public’s values. Under the current plan, the Seashore will fail to meet its management objectives, and its failure will be public, painful, and predictable.In particular, it is astonishing that the NPS proposes to selectively target and kill deer that approach people. Yes, deer approaching people is a recipe for trouble, especially if the deer expect to be fed. But in the late 1990’s, the PZP research team, The Humane Society of the United States, and the U.S. Geological Survey worked together with Seashore staff to sharply reduce the amount of artificial feeding of deer being carried out by FIIS residents and visitors. This was accomplished by aggressively educating visitors and recruiting the communities and the deer-feeders as collaborators in the PZP research project, working with them to gradually restrict the amount, timing, and location of feeding. The partnership worked.The FIIS staff knows that many of the people who feed deer know them as individuals. No resident or visitor whose favorite deer is singled out for killing because the residents feed them will listen to any educational messages from the NPS. This is just a provocation. Anger and hurt do not open people’s hearts to messages of change, especially when the messages are conveyed by the source of the anger and hurt.And the Seashore’s proposal to use fertility control to manage its deer is not real. The condition stipulated for the use of fertility control, “when an acceptable agent, i.e., an agent meeting criteria specified in the plan/EIS, becomes available,” is a poison pill. As artfully and arbitrarily constructed and interpreted by the NPS, these policy criteria will assure that no agent will be found to be “acceptable” within the lifespan of the plan.The NPS has adopted five criteria for the acceptability of fertility control agents. While two of them — that the agent be federally approved and the meat be safe for human and scavenger consumption — are entirely reasonable, the other three combine vague language with arbitrary application. Our research team has argued for decades in favor of contraceptives that have “minimal impact on deer behavior.” But here’s how NPS applies that criterion: the plan excludes surgical sterilization because it affects behavior too much, but accepts an immunocontraceptive (GonaConTM) that will act on behavior in exactly the same way. Meanwhile, PZP is dismissed from consideration because of “repeated estrous cycles,” which neither harm deer health nor disrupt social organization. Perversely, because of how the two methods work, PZP is likely to be much less disruptive to behavior than GonaCon.The NPS policy criteria requiring remote injection and multiple-year action set desirable goals. Yet our previous experience on FIIS as well as on Fripp Island, SC, has demonstrated that neither is necessary to achieve population reduction targets. And under the FIIS plan, remote injection wouldn’t be used anyway.The NPS criteria are flexible enough to exclude any fertility control agent, and the Seashore is using them that way.Finally: after applying extensive screening, procedural controls, and impact measurements to fertility control, the NPS prescribes “a controlled public hunt” in the Wilderness Area. To justify the hunt, the Seashore describes no undesirable deer impacts in the Wilderness Area; sets no deer management objectives; prescribes no deer density or vegetation targets; and analyzes no impacts, blithely assuming there will be none. The hunt will, of course, have impacts, and they may not be good.To effectively achieve its goals, protect natural plant communities and cultural resources, educate the public, and reduce undesirable deer-human interactions, FIIS must produce and implement a plan that contains credible non-lethal deer population control, and which will truly engage and partner with the residents of its human community.Sincerely,Allen Rutberg, Ph.D.Director, Center for Animals and Public PolicyCummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts UniversityNorth Grafton, Massachusetts(Listed for affiliation purposes; these comments represent my personal views only, and not those of the Center for Animals and Public Policy, Cummings School, or Tufts University.)To the Editor,This past weekend, the Ocean Beach Fire Department was activated eight times for ocean rescues in Ocean Bay Park.This is eight times that our volunteers had to report to the fire house, don their gear, man their trucks and roll to OBP.Additionally, twice these rescues required assistance from the Ocean Beach Life Guards.Throughout this summer, the life guards from Ocean Beach, Seaview and Point o’ Woods have repeatedly provided lifesaving assistance in Ocean Bay Park.Needless to say, all of this ocean activity in Ocean Bay Park has the potential to compromise service and coverage in Ocean Beach and the other communities.This is because Ocean Bay Park does not have their own lifeguards.Ocean Bay Park is part of the Town of Brookhaven.There were several drownings on Long Island this past weekend.What will it take for Brookhaven to wake up, step up and provide lifeguards and protect their citizens and beaches in Ocean Bay Park?Thank you,Maria Silsdorf LevineEDITOR’S NOTE: Maria Silsdorf Levine is the spouse of Ian Levine, Chief of the Ocean Beach Fire Department.To The Fire Island News — The Island Mermaid — Moosh & Twist: OCD& All the amazing Friends & Families on Fire Island!Thank you so much for everything that you are so graciously doing for Joey Sylla! The event at The Island Mermaid that was hosted by Scott on Sunday was such a wondrous surprise gift to our family! Then Moosh & Twist: OCD playing in the same night! The friendship and generosity that you all showed with the GoFundMe page was already so overwhelming that we never expected to receive more love and support. All of this benevolence is already starting to get Joey back on his feet.With all of your encouragement and inspiration, the stem cell treatment is beginning to show some positive effects. So much so, that the doctor who did the treatments wants to schedule Joey for 2 more treatments over the next 6-8 months! With the advances in the field, they now have a Specialist who will be able to administer the stem cells behind Joey’s eyes to help improve his vision. All of the medical treatments will be done in Florida and are not covered by insurance.The enormous financial backing that you are giving us makes all of this possible. We are praying that the additional stem cells will have tremendous benefits to Joey in his vision, mobility, stamina, coordination and balance. Because of all of you, we are optimistic that soon Joey will be healthy, working and able to fulfill his dream of graduate school and a career in the health field. We were isolated for so long in this situation, but the care and warmth that you all share now with our family reverses that. Knowing that Joey has this indestructible force of compassion behind him is so reassuring. Our whole family is so grateful to everyone out there.Thank you again!Love,Jennifer SilverRead and comment on additional letters on our website www.fireisland-news.com.Have Something to Say? Write us at [email protected]. Opinions expressed in Letters to the Editor are not necessarily those of Fire Island News.