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November 18, 2022

James Loney
Posted 11/18/22

November 18 — This week the first snow arrived in Sullivan County. As winter storms go here in the Northeast, this first snowstorm was a small one. The ‘expat-Canadian’ in me has …

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November 18, 2022


November 18 — This week the first snow arrived in Sullivan County. As winter storms go here in the Northeast, this first snowstorm was a small one. The ‘expat-Canadian’ in me has always loved snow, so long as that snow comes in abundance—snow with staying power to remain on the ground six, eight, ten weeks. As I drove over to deserted Kauneonga Lake today, the sky was a dun grey, and the snow was melting into simple mud. Winter in Sullivan, if not prettified by some kind of artificial lighting, can be a barren and sullen time of mud. So our winter begins this way, this week. 

Luckily and speaking of lighting up the dark: mark your calendars, please! On Friday, December 2  at 7p.m., out front of Sticky Fingers/ Table & Tap/ Kauneonga Lake Fire Station, lights on the Bethel Veteran’s Park Christmas Tree will be lit. It’s a delightful occasion so make the effort! You’ll see many friends enjoying seasonal cheer as the lights go up and darkness caves in the heart of Bethel. And again, on Sunday, December 18 at 5:30 p.m., same place, there will be a Hannukah Celebration. Both events, sponsored by the Bethel Business Association (BBA), Town of Bethel and the Bethel Local Development Corp (BLDC), are free of charge and open to everyone.

Driving home in the dark the other evening, a small herd of deer suddenly careened out in front of my Subaru’s headlights before exploding in several directions into the dark ditches on either side of the road. One has to wonder about the deer population around here. The New York State Department of the Environment estimates current deer numbers at 1,200,000 animals, or 22 deer per square mile. An article in the Utica Observer-Dispatch last autumn noted there are 70,000 deer-automobile collisions and 200 humans killed each year in NYS. Photos exist of Sullivan County forests from the 1870s and early twentieth century when the forest floor was a dense mass of blooming flowers and shrubs and struggling seedlings. Nowadays around here, you can look across the forest floor for hundreds of unobscured feet in all directions. Humans have competed with and eradicated most of the natural predators of deer like wolves, mountain lions (both eradicated), coyotes, bobcats and bears. I note there are bounties still offered for coyotes in our area. The deer, unencumbered, have bred themselves into a stupendous overpopulation. They, (like we, who are occasionally sentient) are out of control. Who of us hasn’t yet had his car plowed into by a doe leaping from the roadside, or had her flowers and herb gardens decimated by a hungry band of midnight deer, or watched as a prideful young buck gores a favorite juvenile tree with its young rack of horns? Really now, at the policy level, something must be done to reign in deer populations. Does anyone have an idea where we begin?


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