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Onondaga County to help localities with deer management

Sidsel Overgaard
WRVO News File Photo

Onondaga County Legislature Chairman Ryan McMahon was already in the midst of learning about the connection between deer and Lyme disease last summer, when he noticed a bulls-eye rash on his son’s back.

"And I freaked out and I went to urgent care and I knew more what I was talking about than some of the folks did there. So I’ve seen on all ends of the spectrum how this can impact from a concerned parent, to talking with parents who’ve had their children with this issue, to talking with adults who’ve been bitten and have Lyme disease,” said McMahon.

Now, Onondaga County is taking a lead role in the attempt to cut back on the deer population that carries Lyme disease across central New York. Lawmakers have approved a local law that will authorize programs to manage and reduce the Deer and Tick populations within Onondaga County. The county will become a kind of funding stream and information source for municipalities or neighborhood groups that want to cull the deer population. 

So far, the county has committed $100,000 dollars this year for the effort, and expects to continue offering funding as long as the problem exists. 

The village of Fayetteville is one local government that’s expected to apply for the funding as it prepares for a bait-and-cull program, meant to reduce the deer population in an area where Lyme disease is common. After watching families in his neighborhood deal with the illness, Fayetteville resident David Dunn is glad someone’s doing something.

“Somebody has to lead, and I don’t know who can do it besides the government. It would be nice to see [New York] State Parks involved, I think the State Parks, at least at Green Lakes appear to be waiting for the local governments to do something. I’m not particular who goes first, but I’m happy to see action,” said Dunn.

McMahon says he expects both Fayetteville and the town of Onondaga to apply for the funding. And he expects the program to grow.

“As this issue becomes documented, and people realize what’s going on in their neighborhoods, that more people are getting Lyme disease, I think we’ll see other municipalities and other target areas becoming engaged also.”

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.