NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The deer population on Staten Island has exploded and the city lacks a concrete plan for how to deal with the issue, Borough President James Oddo said.

Restoration ecologist Kevin Heatley told the New York Post that surveys have found the number of white-tailed deer on the island has grown from a couple dozen in 2008 to likely more than 1,500 today.

“They get in the street, they get in front of buses, they get in front of cars, and they cause damage, and they can cause harm,” Staten Island resident Verne Kornacki told CBS2’s Elise Finch.

The city Parks Department said it’s working on a communications plan to warn people about the deer. But Oddo said that’s not enough, adding that there have already been car accidents as a result of the growing deer population. Staten Island officials want to get it under control before one of those accidents is deadly.

“I don’t see this issue through the prism of Bambi’s eyes; I see it through the prism of safety for moms and grandfathers and kids in automobiles,” Oddo told CBS2’s Ginny Kosola.

Oddo told Finch he also wants to protect native vegetation and prevent the spread of tick-borne illnesses such as Lyme disease.

“Staten Island is one big buffet to these animals,” Oddo said.

“When you have more than 10 deer per square mile, you will start seeing ecological devastation. When you have more than 15, you start seeing Lyme and tick-borne diseases. We’re at 42 deer per square mile, and that number is probably grossly underestimated.”

Sanitation crews have picked up 70 deer carcasses from roadsides in Staten Island this year, up from 34 in 2013.

Staten Island officials said they were promised an action plan from the city in early May, but they still haven’t received it.

“The state and the federal officials that we’ve been working with, they get it,” Oddo said. “Our partners in the city agencies don’t seem to have the same level of urgency.”

A city spokesperson told CBS2 that wildlife is in the jurisdiction of the state and “we are working with the USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) on an environmental assessment to take a look at the impacts of deer and deer management options. The environmental assessment will be released for public comment this fall.”

Once a deer management plan is released and agreed upon, it must be approved by the state.

The borough president said he doesn’t think capturing or moving the deer is a realistic option and that experts say birth control is not a plausible course of action, either.


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