The Ongoing Issue of NYC’s Deer Overpopulation Crisis
By: Lucia Elmi
A recent report circulating around campus has brought to attention the disclosure that a student allegedly contracted Lyme disease, and the source of the illness originates from the campus’ very own grounds.
News of the rumor started back as early as September of the 2018 fall semester. It has raised a number of concerns as well as unanswered questions regarding the nature of the disease, its origins, and what the prospects are for the general safety of CSI’s students and staff.
Hope Berte, Vice President for Campus Planning, Facilities Management and Operations, addressed the situation in hopes of putting people at ease.
As to the origins of its presence on CSI’s campus, Berte said, “Ticks are an island-wide problem that is exacerbated by the increasing deer population.”
SI Live made a shocking report in relation to this, quoting, “From 2012 to 2016, Staten Island saw a 250 percent rise in cases of Lyme disease—the sharpest jump in the disease of the five boroughs over the last five years, according to data the Advance compiled from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”
“Illnesses spread through deer ticks, and locally acquired cases of Lyme disease, are on the rise on Staten Island. Deer ticks are invading the borough, as the Island’s deer population has boomed.”
The evidence is certainly compelling, as sightings of deer on campus is now more common than ever before. The scarcity of deer sightings seen by many roaming the open lawns has now escalated to full herds of deer sweeping the expanse of our campus, in numbers as high as ten in a single sighting.
There is no doubt that the dramatically increasing deer population across the five boroughs holds a large responsibility in the rise of Lyme disease incidences.
The student who contracted the illness was kindly invited to speak at a student government meeting, where he was determined to share his side of the story, but wished to remain anonymous.
Mohammed Bhatti, member of CSI’s student government and board member of CSI Associations, was witness to this students’ testimony and had much to say on the matter.
“This wouldn’t have happened in the first place if the college was cutting the grass and keeping the college clean and the campus maintained. They can’t do that because of the budgeting problems they have.”
When asked about how he would have handled this situation if he were in his shoes he replied, “I would sue them. I would sue the college.”
So far, the student afflicted has wished to take no legal action against the college administration.
Bhatti hopes to improve CSI’s financial situation to avoid further problems such as these in the future.
He said, “I’ve been trying to increase the operational budget for the college because Governor Cuomo has a bill on his desk that would increase the operational budget for all CUNY’s, which would let us maintain the college. Hopefully it ends up working and he signs it. It’s been on his desk for two years and he doesn’t want to sign it.”
As far as safety initiative goes, so far the college has taken no action to administer tick pesticides to its lawns or build up stronger fencing to keep deers off the campus. However, Berte assures that the college will do everything it can to ensure the safety of its students and staff from tick-borne illnesses.
She stated, “The college officials will review the Borough President’s new tick control initiative and discuss the extent of the College’s participation in his Spring 2019 Tick Control Initiative.”
In the meantime, it is important that students and staff take extra precaution when encountering any kind of local wildlife.
Always maintain a safe distance from the animal and make sure to maintain a calm and collected composure so as to not disturb the animal. In the warmer seasons, make sure to put on bug spray if you know you will be entering an area that is high in foliage.
“Education is key; understanding the extent of this city-wide issue as well as how to protect yourself, your family, your pets and your home should be taken seriously. The same precautions you take off campus should be taken on campus.”