Editorial: Reinventing the 4-poster
By Reporter Staff | 08/23/2012 6:00 AM
Take a look across the channel at North Haven, an island like this one, only smaller, if it weren’t for a neck of sand connecting it to Noyac via Long Beach. They have a big tick problem over there.
Lyme disease and other illnesses are not uncommon and, lately, the larvae of the lone star tick are rampant: period-sized dots that even pharmacists and some medical professionals incorrectly call chiggers.
Things seem worse in the tick department there than ever before. So finally, after more than a decade of discussion, debate, experiment and effective use over here on far-away Shelter Island, a few smart citizens of North Haven are asking their elected officials to seek state approval for a 4-poster program to kill ticks, like the one we have here.
How familiar it all is and how frustrating to see another community right next to ours reinventing the wheel. The North Haven Village Board, at least publicly, appears resistant, arguing there’s no money for it. And the DEC won’t let us, they say, according to Supervisor Jim Dougherty, who’s been in touch with the village mayor.
The curious thing about that excuse is they haven’t even filed an application so there’s been no DEC action whatsoever.
More than a decade ago, when New York State blindly prohibited 4-poster use, a brave and committed woman named Rae Lapides, along with allies including Janalyn Travis-Messer and Patricia Shillingburg, kept fighting against all odds to convince a skeptical, resistant Town Board to consider a 4-poster program here. A vocal minority, including many deer hunters, fiercely opposed it on environmental grounds.
The facts spoke for themselves and, over time, a majority of worried residents came to support them. Pushing things past the tipping point, Governor Hugh Carey wrote Governor George Pataki to say for heaven’s sake let Shelter Island give the 4-poster a try. Governor Pataki ordered the DEC to let it happen.
Developed by the USDA in the 1990s, the 4-poster applies permethrin with nearly pinpoint accuracy to the prime hosts of all kinds of ticks — deer, the largest mammal in the ecosystem here besides us — on the parts of their bodies where the ticks concentrate: their heads, necks and ears. Broadcast spraying of tickicide is far less effective and more damaging environmentally. Evidence gathered during three years of tests on Shelter Island shows the 4-poster works, with kill rates of more than 90 percent.
Amazingly, North Haven and other parts of the country seem clueless about all we’ve been through on Shelter Island. The fight must be waged all over again there.
Sooner or later, that village will figure out what the majority of Shelter Islanders already know, including the entire Town Board. The 4-poster works, it is affordable and it is now legal in New York State thanks to the combined efforts of Shelter Island, Suffolk County, New York State and the Cornell Cooperative Extension.
Here’s a suggestion for North Haven: Ban broadcast spraying of permethrin, as Shelter Island should do as well, and approve a 4-poster program to kill ticks and reduce the incidence of tick-borne illness.
General or non-medical topics with information and discussion related to Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases.
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