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Onondaga County helping communities manage deer populations

Sidsel Overgaard
WRVO News File Photo

Lyme disease continues to plague certain areas of central New York, and a special committee created by Onondaga County is hoping to help.

Dave Skeval, the chair of the Onondaga County Deer and Management Advisory Committee, says the goal is to reduce human’s exposure to the tick that carries the disease. That tick is often found on white-tailed deer.

"I’m looking forward to fewer people being exposed to Lyme disease and contracting Lyme disease, because it is a hideous disease, and if you contract it and it has not been diagnosed, it will ruin your life,” said Skeval.

So the committee will divvy up $100,000, that’s already in the Onondaga County budget, to help communities with their deer management strategies. So far the village of Fayettvellle has asked for $14,000 to help pay for last year’s deer culling operation, which killed almost 90 deer. The towns of Solvay, DeWitt and Onondaga have also made inquires.

In the end, Skeval says it’s an issue that has to be handled community by community.

"The number one sensitivity in this is, is it okay to actually cull deer? That’s the kind of third rail of this thing that can mess everybody up. And the one thing we’ve learned is that you have to let a community come to this on their own; you can’t force it. And people have to feel like all options are being considered,” said Skeval.

Deer populations also vary widely from communty to community.

"So for instance, down in the south part of the county -- Fabius, Tully -- have lower deer populations out in the country than what we currently have in some of the suburbs and urban settings in Onondaga County. Everything’s flipped. There’s some areas in the DeWitt area that have 100 deer per square mile, and there’s some areas in Fabius with 40 deer per square mile.”

Skeval adds that high numbers of deer in certain suburbs are also a public safety issue because of car accidents involving deer.

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.