With the town handcuffed by budget concerns, the Island’s state representatives have asked for $100,000 earmarked specifically to get a handle here on the growing problem of ticks and the illnesses they bring.
State Senator Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) and Assemblyman Fred Thiele Jr. (I-Sag Harbor) made an official request for the funds last week to pay for additional 4-poster units for the Island.
These units are stands that deer feed at and are then brushed with a chemical, premetherin, that kills ticks. Each 4-poster costs about $5,000. The town has about 20 units now, down from 60 several years ago when there was scientific evidence that the units were significantly reducing the tick population.
But even with an additional $100,000, that would leave the town to find, at a minimum, $200,000 more to fund an expanded 4-poster program.
At Tuesday’s Town Board work session, Supervisor Jim Dougherty asked for the public’s help. “If people on Shelter Island feel it’s a serious health menace then they’re going to have to help us out,” Mr. Dougherty said.
With both scientific and anecdotal evidence pointing to a spike in the numbers of ticks here, and cases of tick-borne illnesses rising steeply, Mr. Dougherty said there was just no money available to combat the problem the way the town should.
The other part of the solution is to cull the deer herd. Police Chief James Read will be holding a meeting with hunters soon to try and kick start the “nuisance hunting” program.
This program helps communities overrun with deer by allowing special permits, also known as nuisance licenses, issued by the New York State Department of Conservation. Those qualifying for the special licenses are individual farm owners, for example, or municipalities, who can then designate an agent to hunt outside the general hunting season.
One hunter, Ray Bouissey, who is spending the summer in Wyoming, has been in effect the entire nuisance program for the town.
Supervisor Dougherty said the town is trying to find a place where Mr. Bouissey can “process venison” from the deer he’s killed. The place would require electricity and running water, Mr. Dougherty said.
Once the venison is processed it goes into a freezer at the Recycling Center and then is available to anyone who needs it, whether individuals or food kitchens.
Mr. Dougherty also said the town would be meeting with the DEC to ease restrictions on baiting deer in various locations and the use of cross bows.