Dan Rattiner's Stories

Red Nose! A Solution to the Hamptons Deer Problem

Deer have been in the news big time this past week.

On November 8, an anti-hunting group rallied in front of East Hampton Town Hall carrying signs that read “No Weekend Hunting,” “Stop the Slaughter, Let Our Deer Live” and “Protect Nature’s Stillness in Winter.” Then, a 28-page proposal to create a deer-control committee was urged upon the Southampton Town Board. The group would include elected officials, farmers, experts, planners, hunters and environmentalists. They’d know what to do. And in North Haven, the Village Board considered a deer-darting program that could render them sterile.

(One person asked why we couldn’t just give girl deer a daily contraceptive pill, and Dr. Allen Rutberg of Tufts, who presented this plan, said you could never be sure they’d taken it, and if you could be sure, the medicine would remain in the deer rather than degrade and so would turn up in the meat. That answered that question.)

The most interesting development, though, was a plan put forth at an East Hampton Town Board meeting to install “Four Poster Deer Treatment Bait Stations” in several wooded areas in that town. The feeding stations have corn in a bin to serve as a lure (and to feed them). The deer would come over to eat, they’d lean down and put their noses to the ground to get the corn, and this would cause one of their ears to get between two rollers sticky with pesticide. The pesticide would get rubbed on the ear and face, killing ticks that cling there. The “Four Poster” is already in use on Shelter Island. And it had been presented to North Haven the week before last.

I found a picture of the Four Poster on the American Lyme Disease Foundation website and it is shown here. The big rectangular part is the corn bin. Then on each side—so two deer could be “rolled” at the same time—are the yellow sticky rollers. The rollers work on one side of the head at a time. The deer has to come back in the other direction to get his other ear rolled. Eventually, it does.

Testing has shown great results. One test was conducted in a 96-acre fenced in wildlife management area near Kerrville, Texas. After three years, there were 92-97 percent fewer ticks on the deer. Another study was done for three years at a 600-acre fenced-in woods at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, which found a 96 percent to 98 percent reduction in ticks. The insecticide eventually gets all over the deer, licked from the head onto the rest of their bodies when they groom. I didn’t know deer groomed, but apparently they do.

The Dan’s Papers editorial staff has come up with a further enhancement for the Four Poster. Nobody has thought of this. As the deer bend their noses down to feed on the corn, their noses touch the trigger of a can of fluorescent red spray paint.

All you have to do is bolt the red paint can between the corn and the rollers. When a nose hits it, it sprays for three seconds. When the deer gets back up, his nose is fluorescent red.

This solves EVERYTHING.

Motorists will be able to see the red noses and avoid accidents. During deer season, hunters will be able to see them and take them down. Homeowners will welcome red-nosed deer. They are so cute, and tick-free, too. Other deer won’t be willing to mate with deer presenting this deformity. And kids will think the woods are full of Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeers.

We also have an idea for hunters who break the law. Don’t just fine these people. Zip them up into deer suits and turn them loose for a week in the wild during the hunting season. That will teach them, and, if they survive, it will be a lesson well learned.

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