Fire Island

Wikipedia

Fire Island is the large center island of the outer barrier islands parallel to the south shore of Long Island, New York. Occasionally, the name is used to refer collectively to not only the central island, but also Long Beach Barrier Island, Jones Beach Island, and Westhampton Island, since the straits which separate these islands are ephemeral. In 2012, Hurricane Sandy once again divided Fire Island into two islands. Together, these two islands are approximately 31 miles (50 km) long and vary between 520 and 1,310 feet (160 and 400 m) wide. Fire Island is part of Suffolk County. All parts of the island not within village limits are part of the Fire Island census-designated place (CDP), which had a permanent population of 292 at the 2010 census, though that expands to thousands of residents and tourists during the summer months. The land area of Fire Island is 9.6 square miles (24.9 km2).
 

Fire Island lies on average 3.9 miles (6.2 km) off the south shore of Long Island, but nearly touches it along the east end. It is separated from Long Island by Great South Bay, which spans interconnected bays along Long Island.

 

DEER DECODED: A Special Report on the FINS Management Plan , Fire Island News, Feb 13, 2017FINS outlined a plan that would include culling the herd by sharpshooters as the “preferred choice” to manage the population, and euthanasia to “reduce the risk of negative human-deer interactions.” A professionally produced video of 40-seconds in length accompanied the piece, featuring a fresh-faced FINS Wildlife Biologist by the name of Lindsay Ries who spoke to underscore the Park’s position to preserve the fragile ecosystem being the root necessity of this action. The plan is still pending final approval by National Park Service.
Studying White-tailed Deer, National Park Service, series of reports up through 2016The second and third phases of this long-term study did not show PZP to be effective at all study sites and impacts to critical resources, such as the Sunken Forest, continued to be documented through vegetation monitoring during the study. The results of this long-term fertility control study were used to inform the development of Fire Island National Seashore’s Deer Management Plan.

Fire Island deer plan for hunts, birth control wins final OK, Newsday, May 2, 2016In other federal park areas, deer will be targeted to reduce the density of the animals to about 20 to 25 per square mile. The park could get to that number in one to two years if “65 percent of the population is initially targeted for removal,” the plan said. Only park service employees or contractors will be allowed to hunt, which will likely occur between dusk and dawn and during fall and winter months when tourism is lower. Lead-free ammunition will be used.

Record of Decision for the Fire Island National Seashore White-tailed Deer Management Plan, National Parks Service, April 28, 2016

FINS deer management plan sparks ire, Islip Bulletin, Feb 4, 2016Chris Soller, FINS superintendent since 2010, refutes claims of any significant success of PZP inoculations, saying that the experiment actually produced mixed results. “It was effective in areas where deer are fed regularly, but it was not as effective in free-roaming areas.” He added that since deer are always on the move, it would be difficult to determine which of the females had already been injected with PZP. “We’d have to inoculate all females,” he added.

Aside from that, there’s another technicality: the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has not as yet approved PZP for deer.

Deer Research and Monitoring on Fire Island, NPS, 2016Fire Island National Seashore has been involved in a number of vegetation and deer monitoring and research programs for more than 50 years. The information scientists and National Park Service staff have collected on Fire Island and at the William Floyd Estate was used to inform the Seashore’s White-tailed Deer Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement (Deer Plan/EIS) and is summarized in: Vegetation Studies, White-tailed Deer Population Studies, Fertility Control Research, White-tailed Deer Movement Study, Studies of Human-Deer Interactions, 4-Poster Tick Management Technology Study

Fire Island deer hunting plan protested by animal advocates, Newsday, Feb 12, 2016Fire Island seashore officials say an estimated 300 deer live within park boundaries on the barrier island and at William Floyd Estate in Mastic Beach and the prodigious eaters threaten plants and shrubs, including a maritime holly forest that is one of only two in the world.

National Park Service mulls reducing Fire Island deer population, News12, Feb 12, 2016The National Park Service says there are more than 300 deer in just 8 square miles of the Fire Island seashore

Notice of Availability of the Final White-Tailed Deer Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement, Fire Island National Seashore, New York, National Register, Dec 31, 2015As a result, pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), the Seashore prepared a Draft White-tailed Deer Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement (Draft Plan/EIS) to develop a deer management strategy that supports preservation of the natural and cultural landscape through population management and the protection of native vegetation.

Fire Island deer would be culled under National Park Service plan, Newsday, Dec 31, 2015A 480-page deer-management plan published Thursday in the Federal Register outlines a number of alternatives to manage the animals, which have no local predators and whose numbers have been expanding since the 1960s. The preferred choice is to cull the deer herd to about 20 to 25 deer per square mile and then maintain the herd through approved contraception.

See video.

National Park Service considers ways to reduce Fire Island deer herd, Newsday, Aug 28, 2014With an estimated 300 white-tailed deer now living in about eight square miles of the national park portion of the barrier island, park service officials say the hungry creatures, which have no natural predators, are destroying native vegetation and threatening the rare Sunken Forest maritime holly forest – one of only two in the world.
The park service prefers a combination plan that uses lethal options until an unspecified “target deer density” is reached, then using reproductive controls.
The agency said it believes an acceptable reproductive vaccine will be available within a decade, and lethal methods would be used until the vaccine is developed.

The Humane Society worked with the park service on a 15-year study of an immunocontraceptive vaccine on the deer population, and Griffin said the vaccine cut the deer population on Fire Island in half from 1995 to 2009.

The park service said the vaccine used in the Humane Society study is unacceptable because of the short duration of a dose, the lack of federal approval for the vaccine, and breeding behavior in vaccinated does.

Fire Island National Seashore Draft White-tailed Deer Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement, National Parks Service, FIIS, Draft White-tailed Deer Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement (complete document) (9.5 MB, PDF file), 2014
This Draft White-tailed Deer Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement (plan/EIS) describes four alternatives for the management of white-tailed deer at Fire Island National Seashore (the Seashore), as well as the environment that would be affected by the alternatives and the environmental consequences of implementing these alternatives. The purpose of the plan/EIS is to develop a deer management strategy that supports protection, preservation, regeneration, and restoration of native vegetation and other natural and cultural resources at the Seashore and reduces undesirable human-deer interactions in the Fire Island communities. The plan/EIS is also intended to promote public understanding of the complex relationship between deer and Seashore resources, tick-borne diseases, people, and human infrastructure. Action is needed at this time to address impacts associated with changes in white-tailed deer abundance, distribution, and behavior across the Seashore. Heavy browsing by white-tailed deer has resulted in adverse impacts on native vegetation across Fire Island as well as on natural and cultural resources at the William Floyd Estate. The presence of abundant food sources (including naturally occurring vegetation, unsecured garbage, intentional feeding, gardens/ornamental landscaping) and shelter in the Fire Island communities have resulted in adverse interactions between deer and humans and the developed environment. Adverse interactions also occur due to the habituation of deer to the unthreatening presence of humans and conditioning of deer, particularly to food sources, in the Fire Island communities and high-visitor use areas.

from:

Draft White-tailed Deer Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement

CHAPTER 2: ALTERNATIVES

DEER POPULATION MANAGEMENT ACTIONS CONSISTENT WITH ALTERNATIVES B AND D FERTILITY CONTROL

Reproductive control in wildlife management has been assessed for several decades across multiple species. Its use has gained more attention as the public has become more interested in wildlife management decisions. For reproductive control agents to effectively reduce deer population size, they must decrease the reproductive rate to less than the mortality rate. In urban deer populations, mortality rates are generally very low (approximately 10%). Also, to control the growth of the deer population, it is necessary to treat 70%–90% of the female deer with a highly effective product to successfully reduce or halt population growth in a closed population without immigration or emigration (Rudolph, Porter, and Underwood 2000; Hobbs, Bowden, and Baker 2000). The science and understanding of fertility control are evolving. The most updated information about fertility control is summarized in appendix D. The terms fertility control and reproductive control are used synonymously in this document.

Two categories of reproductive control technology were considered: chemical reproductive control agents and surgical sterilization. Chemical reproductive control agents offer great promise for future wildlife management (Rutberg et al. 2004), as described in appendix D. Surgical sterilization was considered but dismissed based on the criteria established for fertility control (see “Alternative Elements Considered but Dismissed” at the end of this chapter).

Several chemical reproductive control agents (immunological and nonimmunological) are being developed and tested for use in deer population control (Fagerstone et al. 2010). These include the standard porcine zona pellucida (PZP) vaccine (Kirkpatrick et al. 1992; Turner, Kirkpatrick, and Liu 1996; Naugle et al. 2002; Miller et al. 2009); uniquely formulated PZP, such as SpayVac® (Fraker et al. 2002) and long-acting formulations of native PZP (Rutberg et al. 2013); GnRH vaccine (Miller et al. 2000, 2001; Curtis et al. 2002; Fraker et al. 2002; Gionfriddo et al. 2009, 2011); and Leuprolide (Baker et al. 2002, 2004). Each of these agents is described briefly in table 5 and in more detail in appendix D.

FERTILITY CONTROL

Reproductive control in wildlife management has been assessed for several decades across multiple species. Its use has gained more attention as the public has become more interested in wildlife management decisions. For reproductive control agents to effectively reduce deer population size, they must decrease the reproductive rate to less than the mortality rate. In urban deer populations, mortality rates are generally very low (approximately 10%). Also, to control the growth of the deer population, it is necessary to treat 70%–90% of the female deer with a highly effective product to successfully reduce or halt population growth in a closed population without immigration or emigration (Rudolph, Porter, and Underwood 2000; Hobbs, Bowden, and Baker 2000). The science and understanding of fertility control are evolving. The most updated information about fertility control is summarized in appendix D. The terms fertility control and reproductive control are used synonymously in this document.

Two categories of reproductive control technology were considered: chemical reproductive control agents and surgical sterilization. Chemical reproductive control agents offer great promise for future wildlife management (Rutberg et al. 2004), as described in appendix D. Surgical sterilization was considered but dismissed based on the criteria established for fertility control (see “Alternative Elements Considered but Dismissed” at the end of this chapter).

Several chemical reproductive control agents (immunological and nonimmunological) are being developed and tested for use in deer population control (Fagerstone et al. 2010). These include the standard porcine zona pellucida (PZP) vaccine (Kirkpatrick et al. 1992; Turner, Kirkpatrick, and Liu 1996; Naugle et al. 2002; Miller et al. 2009); uniquely formulated PZP, such as SpayVac® (Fraker et al. 2002) and long-acting formulations of native PZP (Rutberg et al. 2013); GnRH vaccine (Miller et al. 2000, 2001; Curtis et al. 2002; Fraker et al. 2002; Gionfriddo et al. 2009, 2011); and Leuprolide (Baker et al. 2002, 2004). Each of these agents is described briefly in table 5 and in more detail in appendix D.

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Deer Population Management Actions Consistent with Alternatives B and D
The current research related to chemical reproductive control technologies offers highly variable results in terms of key elements such as contraceptive efficacy and duration (appendix D). As stated above, there are also logistical issues related to the administration of these drugs that could have substantial implications for success and sustainability. Therefore, only when the following criteria are met would reproductive control be implemented as a management tool.

1. The fertility control agent is federally approved and state-registered for application to free-
ranging white-tailed deer populations.

2. The agent provides multiple-year (three or more) efficacy (80%–100%) to minimize the cost and labor required to administer the drug to a large number of deer.

3. The agent can be administered through remote injection to avoid capturing the animal on a regular basis and to increase the efficiency of distribution.

4. The agent would leave no harmful residual in the meat (meat would be safe for human and non-target animal consumption).

5. The agent would have minimal impact on deer behavior (e.g., reproductive behaviors, social behaviors, out of season estrous cycling).

Such an agent is not currently available. Regardless, because Seashore staff anticipates an agent that meets all NPS criteria would be available upon implementation or within the next 10 years (as research and development continues), this tool has been retained as part of the range of alternatives. However, evaluation of existing agents using criteria for an acceptable agent showed that GonaConTM met more of the criteria than other chemical reproductive control agents (table 6).
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Under alternative B, the Seashore would not be able to initiate a reproductive control program until a chemical reproductive control agent meeting all criteria becomes available. Prior to the availability of an acceptable agent, all other components of alternative B would be implemented following initiation of this plan. The availability of an acceptable agent would also limit the options available to the park for population maintenance under alternative D (but direct reduction methods would be available for use under this alternative).

The Seashore would monitor the status of reproductive control research on a periodic basis through consultation with subject matter experts and review of new publications. When new information and/or advances in the use of reproductive control agents could benefit deer management in the Seashore and established criteria are met, the decision to use an appropriate chemical reproductive control agent would be determined by the Seashore. This determination would be made based on how well the criteria for an acceptable control agent are met and on availability, cost, efficacy, duration, and safety at the time the action was implemented. The determination of an appropriate control agent is discussed further in “Adaptive Management Approaches Included in the Action Alternatives.”

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Fall Deer Darting on Fire Island, NPS, 2009On September 17, 2009, Fire Island National Seashore began another season of a long-standing deer immunocontraceptive research project on Fire Island, to help determine if deer populations on the island can be kept in check by injecting female deer (does) with a birth control vaccine. Darting of the does is conducted on both National Park Service (NPS) lands and in several Fire Island communities which are within the boundaries of Fire Island National Seashore. Park resource management staff and volunteers completed darting in Fire Island Pines and Cherry Grove last week, and have begun darting from Ocean Bay Park through Cornielle Estates and from Atlantique to Kismet.

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