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Illegal Deer Feeding Rankles Residents In West Ellicott

The illegal feeding of deer in the town of Ellicott has attracted both other unwanted wildlife and the attention of the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

Three residents of Price Avenue went before the Ellicott Town Board in August to voice concerns over the feeding and to request that the town intervene.

One resident spoke to town board member Robert White about the problem, stating that neighbors were leaving food for wildlife and then “blowing the feces off of his yard and onto the neighbors,” according to minutes of the meeting posted by the town. The resident said the neighbors were “infringing upon their rights to enjoy their property.”

Another Price Avenue resident said the property in question was “completely infested by rodents.” The resident also stated that a skunk had found its way into her home, requiring her to replace living room furniture.

“There are times they cannot get out of their cars because of the skunks,” minutes of the August town board meeting read.

A woman also told board members that her dog had been sprayed by skunks three times. The woman said the neighbor feeding the deer was replenishing the food at night.

Town Supervisor Janet Bowman acknowledged the concerns raised by homeowners. “There’s a house on Price putting food out for deer, putting it on the ground,” Bowman said in a phone interview last week, later adding, “It’s not a safe situation.”

A state DEC spokesman said the department’s Division of Law Enforcement has received reports of deer feeding on Price Avenue in West Ellicott; however, he said no formal complaints have been filed.

The spokesman said the DEC also received an email from White that included photographs taken in late winter or spring of deer eating bird seed off of a lawn. The department followed up by sending the owner of the property a warning letter.

“Intentionally feeding deer is illegal in New York state,” the spokesman said. “Incidental feeding is also illegal after a written DEC warning has been issued.

“Supplemental feeding can negatively affect deer behavior, leading to increased social conflict among deer, habituation of deer to human presence, and alteration of migratory movements to critical wintering areas. Importantly, supplemental feeding can increase deer populations above ecologically sustainable levels, resulting in significant harm to local biodiversity and forest health.”

The feeding of deer isn’t the only animal-related complaint to come before the town board this year. In June, two residents of Delaware Avenue near Falconer asked for the town’s assistance in dealing with a loud domesticated bird.

Ellicott Police Chief William Ohnmeiss said the only way officers can assist is if the town board revised the language in the dog control law to include all domesticated animals.

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