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Staten Island's Pest Control Problem
This time it's not rats
Staten Island is a large island that is technically part of New York City, though people often forget it; it more closely resembles a vast strip mall than what one might typically imagine when thinking of NYC. It is the least-densely populated borough and is the only borough that isn’t connected to the rest of the city by the subway system - you need to take a boat to and from Staten Island like Christopher Columbus - but this is probably okay because most New Yorkers don’t have any reason to ever go there.
According to Wikipedia, a number of prominent historical figures hail from Staten Island:
Arthur Anderson - actor known for voicing the Lucky Charms leprechaun
Steven Seagal - chubby nerd known for friendship with Vladimir Putin and wearing transition lenses
Pete Davidson - comedian known for bad acting and humongous teeth
Judging by the rich cast of very cool and successful luminaries from Staten Island, it’s hard to imagine that the island faces any challenges.
But believe it or not, Staten Island is overrun with deer.
How can this be? Deer had long been eradicated from Staten Island, but in the 1990’s deer began swimming across the narrow channel from New Jersey to Staten Island, and thanks to the abundance of parks and vegetation (Staten Island has half of all park land in New York City) the deer began to multiply.
Imagine the first deer’s disappointment when it emerged from the water with dreams of making it in the big city, only to realize that it was in Staten Island.
The borough is now home to nearly a thousand deer who destroy the vegetation, carry ticks which spread Lyme Disease, and cause auto accidents.
According to NYC Open Data, the number of 311 calls to remove dead deer in Staten Island dwarfs the number of calls to remove dead deer in all other boroughs combined.
So what does the city do to control the deer population? According to NYC Wildlife the city has employed a multi-pronged approach, including population control studies and estimates, public awareness and education, and, most notably, a male deer capture and sterilization program.
It works like this: the city partnered with a non-profit which tranquillizes male deer, gives them vasectomies, then outfits them with radio collars and giant ear tags reminiscent of early 2000’s 50 Cent.
So why are they giving deer vasectomies? Hunting is illegal throughout New York City, so apparently giving the deer vasectomies so they can no longer procreate is the next best option.
The Department of Sanitation provided this graph of Deer Carcass Collections. It’s difficult to tell whether the program is working from this stupid graph, but it’s pretty funny that it exists in the first place.
It’s unclear whether the city has tried limiting deer reproduction through other means, such as distributing condoms or teaching the deer abstinence.
It’s also unclear whether the vasectomies will result in unintended side effects, like an increase in the number of deer driving convertibles and dating younger women.
The vasectomy program has divided Staten Islanders on the proper path forward. Some residents see the deer as pests and are calling for the city to relocate or even kill the deer, while other residents enjoy the deer with whom they share the island.
There’s even a Facebook group called Deer Across Staten Island where the same five or six people upload pictures of the deer they see.
Here we see Tommy admiring a deer’s fluffy tail, while buzzkill Fred Franz rudely informs him that “all the deers have tails like that.”
Here Jeannie is asking what happened to the herd who lives “between Target and the West Shore Motel,” (just as deer were meant to live, frolicking with free range all the way from Target to the West Shore Motel).
Then our friend, Fred Franz, who in addition to being a buzzkill also appears to be a conspiracy nut, informs the group that the government “come in at night to shoot them all dead with Silenced High Powered (Assault) Rifles” and haul away their bodies before the residents of Staten Island wake up in the morning. This is an interesting theory, but surely the guests at the West Shore Motel would notice government agents murdering an entire herd of deer at night, right? Unless they’re in on it too?
The male deer capture and sterilization program makes me wonder why we don’t have more humane options to deal with New York’s rat population. I encourage all readers to reach out to the Mayor’s Office and ask them to stop killing the rats and to just give them all little tiny rat vasectomies instead.
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