Deer and Tourists: Here’s What Might Be Done

A company called Vision Air Research is now halfway through the job of counting the number of deer in East Hampton Town. The company’s pilots fly up in Cessna aircraft to a height of 1,000 to 2,500 feet, where they turn on special infrared cameras attached underneath the wing that are able to photograph and video the heat—otherwise invisible to the human eye—emitted by deer. According to company president Susan Bernatas, the heat emitted by the two ears of a deer is so strong that it can be detected from 15,000 feet. The Vision Air Research cameras are so precise that they can accurately differentiate a deer from a human or any other large animal of that size.

Deer are a particular problem on the East End. When their numbers increase to an unwieldy total, they eat foliage down to the bare twigs and trunks, run out into the streets and have collisions with cars, chew through vegetable and flower gardens, leave unsanitary droppings and transmit deer-related diseases.

The area so far surveyed in East Hampton is the westerly half of the town from Barcelona Neck to Town Line Road. Having completed this survey and provided a report, Vision Air Research will next embark on surveying the eastern end of the town between Barcelona Neck and Montauk Point once funding has been approved by the Town Board. The total cost of the survey, authorized by the Town Board, is $13,174.

Knowing the size of the deer population will help the Town to determine what, if anything, should be done about reining in the numbers. An aerial survey done 10 years ago in North Haven, which in acreage is about 1/25th the size of East Hampton Town, found that there were 425 to 450 deer among a population of 713 humans, and a decision was made to
take action.

At that time it was decided to “thin the herd” through the use of hunters during a specific hunting season. For East Hampton, depending on the ratio of deer to humans, the choices could include the aforementioned “thinning of the herd,” or a more humane approach that might include darting the deer and carting them off asleep to the Adirondacks, darting them with sterilizing chemicals, or creating locations where otherwise appetizing food is laced with either arsenic, a contraceptive, an antibiotic or Permethrin, which chases deer ticks away.

Currently, there also might be a decision made to increase the herd if it’s felt the numbers are very low, and if that is the case then the choices would include setting extra food and water out for them, putting the species on an endangered list and passing laws to make it illegal to harm or kill a deer (or even go near where they live), or providing habitats where they might fornicate and better repopulate themselves.

While this project between the Town of East Hampton and Vision Air Research is taking place, Dan’s Papers has exclusively learned there is a similar project in the works by the group called Save Eastern Long Island From the Tourists, which intends to hire an aircraft company competitor to Vision Air Research known as Camera Aviation Census.

In July, Camera Aviation Census will have its company’s pilots fly up in twin-engine Beechcrafts to a height of just under 1,500 feet, where they will turn on special infrared cameras attached underneath the wing that are able to photograph the heat emitted by tourists, otherwise invisible to the human eye. In particular, according to the company’s president, the heat emitted by the wallets of tourists is so strong and unique that the cameras can accurately differentiate a tourist from a local or any other large animal of that size.

Tourists are a particular problem on the East End. When their numbers increase to an unwieldy total, they eat foliage down to the bare twigs and trunks, run out into the streets and have collisions with cars, chew through vegetable and flower gardens, leave unsanitary droppings and transmit tourist-borne diseases.

The area proposed to be surveyed is not just East Hampton but the entire East End, from Westhampton Beach to Montauk and Wading River to Orient.

Knowing the size of the tourist population will help the Towns determine what, if anything, should be done about reining in the tourist numbers. An aerial survey done 10 years ago in North Haven, which in acreage is about 1/25th the size of East Hampton Town, found that there were 900 tourists among a population of 713 humans and a decision was made to take action.

At that time it was decided to “thin the herd” through the use of hunters during a specific hunting season. For the whole East End, depending on the ratio of tourists to locals, the choices would include the aforementioned “thinning of the herd,” or a more humane approach that might include darting the tourists and carting them off asleep to the Adirondacks, darting them with sterilizing chemicals, or creating locations such as restaurants where otherwise appetizing food is laced with either arsenic, a contraceptive, an antibiotic or a tourist control chemical such as Permethrin, which chases head lice away.

There also might be a decision made to increase the tourist population if it’s felt the numbers are very low, and if that is the case then the choices would include setting extra food and water out for them, putting the species on an endangered list and passing laws to make it illegal to harm or kill a tourist (or even go near where they live), or providing habitats where they might fornicate and better repopulate themselves.

The cost of this survey would far exceed the cost of the deer survey in East Hampton being conducted by Vision Air Research. There are nearly 125,000 locals living on the East End. The estimate given by Camera Aviation Census is $978,500.

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