I would like to express my support for the planned deer cull at Teatown Lake Reservation. Although I opposed hunting and culling until recent years, my work as a volunteer with the Audubon Society and Yorktown's Tree Conservation Advisory Commission has informed me about the very strong science behind what Teatown is proposing.
Data from numerous studies show that the population of deer is as much as an order of magnitude greater than the carrying capacity of the land in our region. This has been confirmed in Yorktown by professional forestry studies conducted in Turkey Mountain and Sylvan Glen Parks. The result is almost total destruction of the forest understory, with devastating impacts on numerous species of songbirds and other wildlife. These animals depend on this vegetation that the deer have destroyed. Loss of songbird diversity has been documented when deer populations rise above 15 to 35 per square mile. Deer populations may be higher than 60 per square mile here in Yorktown.
Another problem with the overpopulation of deer is the alteration of the tree species that compose our forests. For example, oaks, which provide sustenance and homes for many species of wildlife, including squirrels, chipmunks and other small mammals, are not regenerating in our deer-ravaged woodlands. Reducing the deer population is the only way to begin to restore our forests to health.
Culling as proposed by Teatown is the most humane and effective method for bringing the deer population back into balance. Non-lethal interventions, like trap-release or shooting arrows tipped with birth control drugs at does, have proven costly and ineffective.
As Yorktown residents acquaint themselves with the severe environmental degradation caused by having way too many deer, support for Teatown's program should grow. It represents an important step in restoring a healthy biodiversity to Yorktown.