A positive resolution of this issue depends on individual people getting involved and taking action. Even if you don't live in Cayuga Heights, you can make a difference:
1. Speak up
Contact the following decision makers and let them know your questions and concerns:
Mayor Kate Supron
Deputy Mayor Liz Karns
Police Chief James Steinmetz
Cayuga Heights Trustees:
Chris Crooker email
Stephen Hamilton email
Diana Riesman email
Richard Robinson email
Peter Salton email
Phone messages for the trustees can be left at (607) 257-1238.
2. Sign our online petition
Visit Change.org for a quick and easy way to get your name added to our petition and have an email sent in your name to the decisionmakers.
3. Write a letter to the editor
The Ithaca Journal
Cornell Daily Sun
4. Sign up to receive updates
Sign up at the top of this column.
5. Help educate others
Get your friends, neighbors and colleagues involved in the public dialogue about this important issue. Begin by letting them know about this web resource. You can do that quickly and easily by clicking on the Send-to-a-Friend button.
6. Attend meetings of the Cayuga Heights Village Trustees
The Village Trustees are the decision makers. Consider attending these public meetings and letting the trustees know your questions and concerns.
Village Trustee meetings are open to the public and are held at 7 PM on the second Monday of every month.
Learn more | What you can do | Sign our Online Petition
57 people submitted the statements below that collectively offer an overwhelming refutation the Cayuga Heights' Deer Management Plan Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). Of those 57 people, four are nationally recognized science experts, four represent national non-profit organizations with thousands of members in New York State, and 12 are local residents who are also experts in relevant disciplines. Another 37 people expressed opposition to the proposed deer-killing plan.
13 people submitted comments approving of the plan.
The four scientific experts below were approached by Ann Druyan, a 30-year resident of Cayuga Heights and noted author and science educator, who asked each to evaluate and comment upon parts of the DEIS that fell within the realm of their professional expertise. None of these experts were paid or compensated in any way for the time they generously devoted to this task. None of these individuals have had previous involvement in the controversy over this plan.
A Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request showed that the statements included on this page were received by the Cayuga Heights trustees during the State-mandated public comment period following issuance of their Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for their "Deer Management Plan".
Documents obtained through a FOIL request may be freely shared with other members of the public without conditions or permission. Hence, each statement stands on its own, and its appearance in this context does not otherwise imply endorsement of any organization, individual or point of view by its author or authors, nor endorsement by CayugaDeer.org of any of the authors or their points of view. Note that this page includes links to all statements, pro and con, returned to CayugaDeer.org by the Village of Cayuga Heights in response to our FOIL request.
Allen T. Rutberg, PhD
Assistant Director, Center for Animals and Public Policy
The Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts
• Plan focuses on numbers of deer, rather than their impacts • DEIS lacks site-specific data, as well as target figures for lessening deer impacts • Adding 10% per year increase to the last deer count from 2006 is not a sound basis for estimating the current population • DEIS does not consider less invasive methods of deer population control • Sterilizing a sub-population of deer and killing the rest is a disturbing model that does not bode well for the coexistence of people and wildlife. Read Statement
Oswald J. Schmitz, PhD
Oastler Professor of Population & Community Ecology
Yale University School of Forestry & Environmental Studies
• The claim that the deer population is still prodigiously growing reflects an incomplete understanding about the population dynamics on this landscape • Insufficient evidence to support the assertion that a deer population size reduction will lessen impacts on habitat and vegetation, or that the management effort will achieve its stated objective deer population size of 15 per square mile • Culled deer could be rapidly replaced by deer from the surrounding landscape • DEIS needs to consider that deer populations may be the consequence of human impacts on the landscape rather than a cause of impacts to humans. Read Statement
Richard Ostfeld, PhD
Senior Scientist, the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies
Author of Lyme Disease: The Ecology of a Complex System (2010, Oxford Univ. Press)
• DEIS incorrectly states that linear correlations exist between deer and ticks • No scientific data support the existence of a deer density threshold below which ticks decline to low numbers • Deer actually reduce the prevalence of Lyme infection in tick populations • Adult blacklegged ticks feed on at least 27 mammal species, not just deer • It’s misleading for DEIS to use Monehgan Island study to predict what will happen in Cayuga Heights. Read Statement
Tamara Awerbuch, PhD
Instructor, Department of Population and International Health
Harvard School of Public Health
• Incorrect assumptions are made in DEIS about the relationship between deer and “deer ticks”, which have no basis in science • There is no linear correlation between killing deer and the tick population • White-footed mice, and not deer, are the carriers of the agent of Lyme disease • In Ipswich, MA, Lyme disease kept growing following deer-killing program • “there is NO scientific justification for a deer killing program in your community”. Read Statement
Sherry Colb, Michael Dorf, Robert Hockett, Steve Shiffrin, and Laura Underkuffler
Local citizens, Cornell Law School Professors
• DEIS lists alternatives, but in violation of state law, fails to seriously consider those alternatives • Goal is defined as reducing deer population, rather than reducing deer-human conflict, sidestepping the need to analyze and quantify the conflict as well as proposed solutions • DEIS fails to consider impact on the deer themselves; the plan is inherently cruel • Potential trauma to residents is dismissed as “community controversy”, when it should be objectively assessed as a "human health" impact, which is expressly included in SEQRA’s definition of “environment” • Locations of the killings are not to be disclosed, preventing people in the vicinity to adequately protect themselves and their loved ones • “Should a
legal challenge become necessary, we will lend our support to it.” Read Statement
Stuart Stein, Local citizen, Emeritus Professor of City & Regional Planning, Cornell University
• DEIS “completely fails to address or assess potentially significant impacts on the wider Ithaca community” • Residents in neighboring municipalities “should not be expected to remain silent if Village officials propose a plan that could damage them or the character of the larger community” • The lack of consideration of the concerns of residents in neighboring municipalities is contributing to an inter-municipal resentment that is uncharacteristic of Ithaca • DEIS does not seriously consider fencing and other alternatives that will not have as severe negative impacts on community • An annual deer-killing program could damage the image of this community, which is valued as a tourist destination for its “peaceful ambience,” and which is also growing in popularity as a place to retire, relocate and raise children. Read Statement
Dominick LaCapra (co-signed by Jane Pedersen)
Local citizen, Bowmar Professor and Prof. of History, Cornell University
• Provides overview of the Cayuga Heights deer controversy and its evolution over the last decade
• Hostility between neighbors is already apparent, before deer-killing program has even begun • No recent poll validates claims that majority of residents support the plan • The “normalization of systematized mass killing” will negatively change the character of the community, as will exposing children and other vulnerable witnesses to the risk of seeing and hearing the slaughter, or injured deer fleeing the scene • The questionable process which produced this expensive and controversial plan, as well as the lack of hard data used to support it, foster distrust and division in the village. Read Statement
Charlene Temple, MSW, LCSW, Local citizen, Psychotherapist
• DEIS fails to consider negative impacts on the mental health of individuals not just in Cayuga Heights, but in the wider Ithaca community, as well as alternatives with a lower potential for harm • Deer-killing program is likely to cause psychological trauma in a number of residents, especially those who enjoy the deer in their yard, and those who might witness sights/sounds of the killing or of deer scrambling in a panic • Even just knowing the killing is taking place could trigger symptoms in those with pre-existing trauma, as well as aggravate conditions of anxiety and depression • “I hope the trustees of Cayuga Heights would not knowingly introduce trauma into our community when there is a choice not to.” Read Statement
Hazel Brampton, MSW, Local citizen, Retired Psychotherapist
• DEIS admits the deer-killing program will have a significant impact on the “social conscience” of a portion of the community, but dismisses this as a form of “community controversy,” when in fact, it is
also a matter of mental health • “As a mental health professional, I am deeply concerned about the impact of this killing program on children… It continues the myth that violence is the answer to problems, and it will certainly cast a shadow on their still developing inner lives” • Some people are so disturbed by just the thought of this killing program, that they are already considering moving – “how can this not be considered significant by the trustees of Cayuga Heights?” Read Statement
Sandip Tiwari, Local citizen, Charles N. Mellowes Professor in Engineering, Cornell University
• DEIS has little that stands up to even the most basic scientific scrutiny, and almost nothing in way of verified factual information • Simple changes, like adjusting the fencing ordinance, would protect homeowners’ properties from deer damage while also likely reduce the deer population by reducing their available food supply • There is no data expressing the will of the people, eg: do residents really want a mass-killing of deer in our backyards by net and bolt, do they want deer to be made infertile, or do they want them left alone? Do they want killing and a divided community, or fences and a community at peace? • Residents will depart Cayuga Heights based on ethical objections to the deer-killing program, and that is certain to change the character of the community. Read Statement and Additional Comments
Sherene Baugher, Local citizen, Assoc. Professor, Cornell Univ. Dept. of Landscape Architecture
• DEIS lacks scientific rigor, raising serious questions about the validity of its conclusions • Lyme disease rationale is “based on emotion not facts” • Scientific studies of successful alternatives to deer-killing have been discussed in public hearings, yet consideration of these are NOT included in the DEIS • Studies showing that deer-killing has not worked in other communities has been discussed in public hearings, yet
this information is NOT included in the DEIS • No discussion of the effectiveness of fencing is presented in the DEIS, although it has been discussed at length in public hearings. Read Statement
Jenny Stein, James LaVeck, Eric Huang
Local citizens, Documentary Filmmakers and Founders of CayugaDeer.org
• Misinformation propagated by the Village government has significantly hindered the ability of the public to fairly evaluate alternatives to the current proposal • Description of the deer-killing program is
insufficiently detailed for the public to evaluate the environmental impacts that will result • The claim that deer are harming biodiversity in the village is not supported by site-specific data, nor have any alternative measures been pursued by the trustees to otherwise protect the 400 or so species they claim are at risk • While killing deer is not a scientifically sound approach to preventing Lyme disease, many preventative measures recommended by the Health Department are known to be effective, yet these
far less impactful approaches have not been explored, nor have the trustees seriously evaluated several highly effective, yet less impactful, approaches to reducing deer-vehicle collisions. Read Statement and Additional Comment on Biodiversity
Karen Kaufmann, Local citizen
• If, as DEIS suggests, ecosystem regeneration is the Village’s goal, then clearing brush, spraying pesticides and developing the remaining plots of land in Cayuga Heights should likewise be considered an
“ecosystem- or diversity-destructive activity” • There is “no data to even suggest that such diversity actually exists, is threatened, or will be impacted here in our well-manicured Village or its residual unique natural areas” • Negative impacts of an annual killing plan will be long-term, unlike non-invasive alternatives • Impact on pedestrian and roadway safety, peace of mind, and on daily patterns of life in the Village are not adequately addressed • Turning neighborhoods into slaughterhouses and firing ranges, introducing a “military encampment” atmosphere experienced by other communities with deer-killing programs, along with the added police protection it requires, will significantly impact the quality of life in the Village, and are “inconsistent with the residential character of the community”. Read Statement
Steve Shiffrin, Local citizen
• The Board acknowledges their plan cannot work without political support over the next five years, yet it’s unlikely they can maintain that support in light of raising residents’ taxes and not supplying sufficient
data to explain $562,000 budgeted for studies and unspecified contingencies • No serious consideration has been given to alternatives to killing deer, nor the fact that, “unlike killing, contraception or sterilization will have widespread support” • The Board has relied on the opinion of Dr. Paul Curtis
that contraception plans are ineffective, without considering conflicting evidence put forth in scientific literature nor that such programs have worked in other communities • 30 deer goal set by Village is not supported in DEIS; the population has been much higher than that in the past without causing controversy.
Lowell Garner, Local citizen
• DEIS has not presented accurate data to support its conclusions, as required by NY SEQR process • No documentation of impact on biodiversity, or that deer waste is contaminating water run--off • While admitting Cayuga Heights is not a forest, DEIS repeatedly uses data from forest ecosystems to support the plan • No data provided to support assertion that the program will reduce and stabilize the herd in 3 to 5 years • DEIS misrepresents Net & Bolt, calling it “Culling by Trapping” • Neuropharmacology supports the assertion that “fear and stress, not pain, are the most inhumane of all stimuli we can inflict upon an animal” • Many members of the public are still unaware of the implications of net-and-bolt and have not been surveyed as to their views • Potential conflict of interest issues for Drs. Anthony DeNicola and Paul Curtis are not disclosed in DEIS • Frequent requests from the community for 8’ fencing option have been ignored as an alternative. Read Statement
Mary & Guy Tabacchi, Local citizens
• 33 years ago, we purchased our home on a two acre wooded plot, with a pond and waterfall, from John Muir’s niece and have preserved its character as an informal wildlife sanctuary for many species • We have not noticed a loss of native plants or birds since acquiring the property three decades ago • We have never encountered an aggressive deer • Our concerns, and those of many others opposed to the program, have not been given adequate consideration or respect • Basic questions posed at public meetings about the financing of the killing program have been ignored • Advocates of the killing program “have created a climate of intimidation in the village”, silencing many who oppose it but fear they will be mistreated or marginalized if they speak out • The annual mass killing of animals whom we have bonded with and even named will cause pain and a great loss, and a continuing divide among neighbors who for years were friends. Read Statement | Additional Comments from Guy | Additional Comments from Mary
Alexandra Giordano, Local citizen
• Enjoys the deer in her yard, knows their personalities and family groups, has taken over 8,000 photos of them and named several • Lives just over the border of Cayuga Heights and will be devastated if the deer she knows and cares about are baited into the village and killed • At a public meeting, she “offered the village $10,000 from my small family foundation toward an alternative method of controlling the deer population. I know they have received at least one other similar offer. But… I never heard back from the
mayor or any of the trustees, and I don’t see these offers discussed anywhere in the DEIS.” • Lives across from an elementary school and is also concerned about shots being fired in the area. Read Statement
Catherine Stein, Local citizen
• Chose to return to this community where she grew up so that her two young children could experience “the culture and environment I value so dearly”, characterized by peaceful co-existence, creative problem solving, respectful listening, and working together to create a better community • Concerned about trauma to children and others who care about the deer when these animals are rounded up and shot in their vicinity • “I cannot imagine any environmental impact more threatening to a community than the imposition of violence, trauma, fear, and distrust; imbuing its constituency with a feeling of complete powerlessness, as the village officials carry out this violent, trauma-causing, and highly disputed plan against the wishes of a substantial portion of its constituency”. Read Statement
Jeff Cox, Local citizen, member of former administration's deer committee
• Last surveys taken in Village showed only 1/3 of respondents approved of killing deer. Without new data, it's unclear if residents are being properly represented by policies, or "bullied and taxed to serve the needs of a minority interest." • 2006 was the last time deer population was estimated, and numbers were consistent with what was measured 6 years earlier. No scientific basis for current claims that the population has continued to grow • "The issue on the table... is whether a minority of residents who perceive deer to be an intolerable problem can determine the policy and budget that serves their interests but not that of the whole." • The interests of people who enjoy deer are not being considered, nor that they "might prefer their $1000+ that will be gathered by taxation used for improved roads and other community services." Read Statement
Anne Serling, Local citizen
• "I can only describe the initial proposal to bait andshoot deer in the village of Cayuga Heights as sheer insanity." The latest plan to Net & Bolt deer is "egregious" • Mayor claims 75% of Village supports killing the deer, yet "I have talked to people in Cayuga Heights. Not one, I repeat NOT ONE has ever been questioned as to their feelings about these proposals • Based on personal experience encountering deer while running 30,000+ miles on Cayuga Heights Road over the past 25 years, it's a misrepresentation to characterize them as aggressive or violent, "You're looking at the wrong animal." Read Statement
Joe Romano, Local citizen
• "this current plan is so ghastly, I have even refrained from telling my 13 yr. old daughter about it"
• "Our community is made up of intelligent people who care about one another. If we were brought together in a forum where we could really talk amongst ourselves in small groups instead of being given a few seconds to spout our position, we could hear each other and solve this problem." Read Statement
Rebecca Warren Davidson, Local citizen
• Net & Bolt killing is a "cruel and inhumane activity" that "has no place in our community, no matter what the reason." • The deer are only one issue that gardeners and other residents face, and not the most substantial • "As a landscape and architectural historian I can tell you that the fencing of private property has an honorable tradition in this country since colonial times." • Fencing will reduce antagonism betweeen neighbors and toward the deer and other animals • DEIS is deeply flawed: "it is based on
incomplete and in some cases inaccurate data, and that it does not represent the wishes of the majority of people who live in the Village of Cayuga Heights • Proposed plan will cause long-term harm to community. Over a decade of killing in Princeton, NJ, has not solved the deer "problem". Read Statement
Victoria Pifalo and Kieran Donaghy, Local citizens
• Current plan relies on lethal and particularly cruel means that are inconsistent with current Village and State regulations • DEIS does not present compelling evidence to "warrant taking a drastic lethal measure before non-violent options have been exhausted." • "It is extremely odd that the DEIS does not
provide alternatives between that of no action and that of sterilization/culling", including an appropriate fencing ordinance, accident deterrants, and public education about health and garden concerns • "We strongly urge you to reconsider the decision to implement the divisive, immoral, and illegal plan proposed in the DEIS." Read Statement
Jonathan Culler, Local citizen
• Net & Bolt violates community standards • It's an injudicious use of tax dollars to implement an expensive, experimental plan without first trying simpler, more sensible measures such as amending the fence ordinance. Read Statement
Lorraine Maxwell, Local citizen
• "It is not a deer management plan; it is a deer killing plan." • "I have learned how to drive to avoid deer and use fencing or other means to protect my garden." • "Your plan is inhumane and
sends the wrong message to our children and our community." Read Statement
More opinions from local citizens opposed to the deer-killing plan
Read statements from Angie Baker, Julia Cozzarelli, Ann Gray & Rebecca Davidson, Gayle Gray, Frithjof Hungnes, Kristin McCarthy-Bevia, Robert Munch, Mary Schiavone, Carol and Ron Schmitt, Stephen Wagner, and Carol Warshawsky.
Support for non-violent alternatives, from people in other communities
Read Statements from Jeanne Elizabeth Blum, Sharon Deming (Sterling Heights, MI), Catherine Drew (Pittsfield, NY), Marilyn Glasgow, Joyce Janicki (St. Clair Shores, MI), Shelly Schlueter (Wildkind Care, Montour Falls, NY), Doreen Tignanelli (Poughkeepsie, NY), Constance Young (Pine Plains, NY).
Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director, Food & Water Watch
• “It is far from clear that deer are the primary source of any runoff contamination.” • USDA data shows that dairy cows in Tompkins County “produce 145 million pounds of untreated manure every year”
• “Determining the existence and source of any manure or wildlife waste runoff must be the first step in developing an appropriate policy to mitigate the risk of water contamination.” • "It is especially disingenuous to use the legitimate concern of water contamination to justify a policy that is considerably more draconian than necessary to protect the village water supply." Read Statement
Edita Birnkrant, New York Director, Friends of Animals
• "I write on behalf of Friends of Animals, and especially our thousands of members in New York State, to oppose the proposal in full" • "It is ecologically irresponsible for leaders of a community of 3,273 people to claim that only 30 deer or less should be allowed to live in their native habitat" • "The impulse to blame other species for problems they didn't create should be challenged... as we usurp more natural spaces through residential, recreational, and commercial development, causing animals to concentrate
into increasingly smaller areas." • "Educating landowners as to some simple tips is sensible and can have long-term positive results." • "Helpful changes might also include revisions to the current fencing ordinance so that residents can protect their gardens from deer if desired." Read Statement
Barbara Stagno, New York Campaign Director, In Defense of Animals
• IDA, with over 8,000 members in New York state, strongly advises against using the "inhumane method" of Net & Bolt killing, which is "highly controversial and condemned by many humane societies and veterinary professionals... It is not unusual for the animals to be struck multiple times in the skull before a fatal shot is established, thus compounding their suffering and stress greatly." • Recently the mayor of Hastings-on-Hudson, NY, rejected Net & Bolt when it became clear that this "would not be a one-time event and that he could not reasonably expect the community to tolerate such an extreme measure year
after year." • From 2000-2005, Millburn, NJ paid $177,329 to kill 85% of the deer, only to find an increase in Lyme disease and no reduction in deer-vehicle collisions. Read Statement
Laura Simon, Field Director, Urban Wildlife Program, Humane Society of the United States
• HSUS, with over 800,000 members in New York state, is strongly opposed to Net & Bolt killing of wild deer and also question the assumptions upon which lethal means have been proposed • Captive bolt guns were not designed to be used in field settings -- "we cannot condone this procedure as humane" • Leading researchers agree that killing deer will not reduce incidence of Lyme disease; "Health authorities such as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization don't recommend hunting to reduce the incidence of Lyme disease for the simple reason that it doesn't work." Read Statement
Read Statements from Ron Bors, Peter Bottorff, Mike Ellis, Lorna J Gates, Walter Gates, Richard and Janet Hale, Thomas D. Hall, Connie Bart Kintner, Jean Poland, Charlotte Shull, Fred and Mary Widding.