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Deer in Massachusetts headlights

COURTESY PHOTO Shelter Island hopes the Massachusetts lead in pushing funding for deer control will inspire New York State.

REPORTER FILE PHOTOShelter Island hopes the Massachusetts lead in pushing funding for deer control will inspire New York State.

While Shelter Island continues to debate most effective methods of reducing the tick population, up in Massachusetts, the State Senate has approved a $1.9 billion four-year environmental bond bill that would include identifying areas where deer overpopulation is harming forestation, water resources or plant growth on state land.

The aim is to develop a plan to cull deer herds by October. A compromise bill still needs to be hammered out between the state senate and house.

Shelter Island Deer & Tick Committee Chairman Mike Scheibel shared the information with committee members this week.
“It’s a significant step in the right direction,” Mr. Scheibel said.

While noting that not all of the money is going to the deer problem, he said it appears to be a major investment in deer control.

“We will be watching it carefully,” he said, referring both to his local colleagues focused on the problem and regional colleagues who have recently been discussing some type of forum to share information and tactics with one another.

The Reporter carried a story on that group in its July 3 issue.

The Massachusetts legislation is aimed at preserving and improving land, parks and renewable energy resources. During debate in the state senate on Thursday, $200,000 was added to what was originally a $1.7 billion expenditure.

It appears that much of that money will be spent on deer control, but the funds are also expected to cover $100 million in dredging of Boston and New Bedford Harbors and another $100,000 slotted for the Department of Conservation and Recreation for the design, construction and preservation of forests, parks, harbor island and recreational facilities.

Shelter Island has been struggling to determine how best to use limited funds between culling the deer herd and paying for the maintenance of four-poster units meant to reduce the tick population. The committee has been saying all along that to tackle the problem, there needs to be funding from Suffolk County and New York State.

But while there are studies committed to examining the problem, the likelihood of major funding for what town officials view as a regional crisis has left communities largely on their own.

Within the last month, the committee discussed the frustration of grant money not being sustainable in the long run to make a dent in the problem.

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