LITTLE FALLS, NJ - The Little Falls Township Wildlife Committee recently hosted a presentation on issues with area wildlife.

Presented by the Clifton Health Department, "Getting to Know Your Wildlife Neighbors" tackled topics dealing with wildlife characteristics, dangers of feeding wildlife, vector borne diseases, control measures and strategies to prevent unwanted pests.

The slide presentation was coordinated by Councilman Chris Vancheri, who chairs the wildlife committee for the township. A panel of officials and specialists from the Clifton Health Department spoke during the presentation, held at the Little Falls municipal building on Aug. 17. 

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On hand was Robert Boyle, animal control officer; John E. Nigel, III, health officer; Layal Helwani, health educator; Jennifer Kidd, coordinator, health projects; and Leslie Leonard, public health nurse supervisor.

The central topic of the discussion mostly focused on the issue with the deer population in northern New Jersey. Boyle stressed that the increase in deer has caused traffic problems in the Passaic County.

"In 2016 there were 120 dead deer picked on roadways in Passaic County by the state," Boyle said.

Boyle also discussed the ecological toll to Garret Mountain, where he said a great deal of the forestry's vegetation has been impacted by deer. He then showed photographs of an over-browsed forest versus a healthy forest.

He also added that the hazards of feeding deer by many residents has put humans at risk towards contracting several tick-borne diseases. He stressed that people food is not healthy or nutritious enough for deer and that the may also lose their fear of humans and potentially become aggressive.

Panelists also discussed the growing issues with other animals, such as Canada Geese, skunks, raccoons, opossums, woodchucks and squirrels. As with deer, they also emphasized the stressed the importance of not feeding wildlife, control methods, ecological impact, fertility control and scare tactics for those animals. They also discussed repellent options.

Information on insects were also discussed during the presentation, which focused on mosquitoes and ticks, many of which have been blamed for the spread of several diseases, such as Lyme Disease, Zika Virus, West Nile Virus. They showed how to properly remove a tick and prevention methods, including how to make sure your backyard is not an environment for breeding mosquitoes. They also explained the life cycle of both insects.

After the presentation, panelists held a question and answer session with several dozen attendees, who came to give their inquiries on personal experiences with the animals, what to do about pest control and other general questions. 

Afterwards, Vancheri thanked the panelists and attendees, adding that the slide presentation shown during the evening would be available on the township's website.

"We're actually working on a new website and we're looking to roll it out over the next couple of months," added Vancheri. "What we're creating right now is a tab for each of our committees. We're revamping the whole thing and we're going to have it very user-friendly, not just with the wildlife committee, but with the rest of out committees, so that residents in town will have a good go to place for information."

For more information on area wildlife, contact the Clifton Health Department at 973-470-5760.