What happened to the Deer & Tick Committee’s decision to request more money for culling the herd in 2018 than was in the budget request submitted to the Town Board?
Police Chief Jim Read answered that question at the October 11 committee meeting saying he scaled back the original $31,900 the committee had recommended be slotted for culling the herd to $20,000 because he knew it wouldn’t pass muster with the Town Board.
Keeping the original figure in the budget request would have meant a 19 percent increase in the committee’s budget, the chief said. He believes the $20,000 dedicated to the effort will be approved and will result in a 4.55 percent hike. The $20,000 figure for culling still represents an increase from what was $11,900 in the current year’s spending plan.
Of that $20,000, half will go to the pilot program planned for the February-March deer damage permit season when it’s hoped hunters with Nuisance Wildlife Control Operators (NWCO) permits will be able to take more deer than they have in the past.
At the same time, Animal Control Officer Beau Payne pointed out that the original understanding the NWCO permits would allow the town to set a bounty on adult does turns out not to be the case.
Individual property owners who obtain a permit for hunting on their land during that period can pay hunters to shoot deer. But the municipality can’t do so. Instead, Mr. Payne is looking to other municipalities to determine how they organize their deer damage hunting to maximize the kill without paying a direct bounty.
The regular hunting season has been underway since October 1 and 10 deer were taken and put in the new refrigerated locker outside the Manhanset Firehouse to be donated to the town program that, after butchering, will be available to anyone wanting the meat without charge.
Currently, the freezer containing the meat at the Recycling Center is full, so anyone wanting meat should pick it up now so more room will be available for additional meat as the season progresses.
A sign has been posted on the freezer at the Recycling Center informing those taking the meat that the State Health Department conducted tests in 2009 of meat from 19 Shelter Island deer and determined it was “unlikely that anyone will experience any permethrin-related health effects from this source.”
At the same time, the sign advises anyone taking the meat should make their own determination about whether they believe it poses no danger to their health.
Given the passage of time, questions have been raised about the safety of the meat, but there have not been tests since then because none of the agencies involved believed there were a sufficient number of deer exposed to the tickicide remaining in the herd.
That prompted committee member Marc Wein to draw the analogy to canaries used to alert coal miners to poisonous gases in mines. True, a canary may just die from old age, but it may have died because of exposure to poisonous gases, he said.
Committee Chairman Mike Scheibel suggested there may be enough older deer that have been exposed to permethrin at Mashomack Preserve, suggesting they could be tested to determine if there is any concern about the meat.
Supervisor Jim Dougherty told the committee he would be meeting with Southold Public Works Director Jeff Standish about that town’s effort to use quail to try to diminish the tick population there.