North Haven

Long Island

Environmental Conservation

In America, white tailed deer are more numerous than ever before, so abundant in fact that they've become a suburban nuisance and a health hazard. Why can't the herd be thinned the old-fashioned way? The small community of North Haven on Long Island is home to some 600 to 700 deer. The department of Environmental Conservation estimates the optimum population at 60. The town has been browsed bare of vegetation except where gardens and shrubs are protected by high fences. Drivers routinely collide with deer and there are so many dead bodies left by the side of the road that the town has made it a deal with a local pet cemetery to collect and dispose of the bodies. Some people in the town have become ill from deer transmitted diseases. On the occasions when hunting has been tried, local animal rights people have worked to secure court orders against the hunts. And when that is failed, they stop the hunters, banging on pots and pans to alert the deer. Town meetings called to discuss the problem inevitably dissolved into confrontations. The activists believe simply that the deer are not the problem. Some communities have even discussed the possibility of bringing wolves back into the ecological mix. That means wolves in the suburbs of New York. It is almost too wonderful not to try it. The wolves would kill deer of course. They would also terrorize and kill dogs and cats which is not what the suburban dwellers have in mind.