Ed Brown calls for meeting on culling deer herd


REPORTER FILE PHOTO | The Town Board discussed deer management plans at Tuesday’s work session.

Councilman Ed Brown wants the town to get serious about culling the deer herd on Shelter Island

At Tuesday’s Town Board work session, Mr. Brown said that an emphasis on just installing 4-poster units to control deer ticks is not enough. And ticks are not the only serious problems caused by an out of control deer herd, he added.

Councilman Paul Shepherd agreed, mentioning property damage caused by the animals and Supervisor Jim Dougherty mentioned car crashes caused by deer.

Mr. Brown also mentioned the expense of the 4-posters, which conservative estimates peg at about $5,000 a unit.

These units are stands that deer feed at and are then brushed with a chemical, premetherin, which kills ticks. There is substantial evidence that the units significantly reduce the tick population.

Mr. Brown is calling for a meeting in early November, possibly at a work session, to discuss the issue of hunting. Special permits for so called “nuisance hunting” will most likely be on the agenda.

Nuisance hunting 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.

Mr. Brown noted the probable absence of Ray Bouissey in the field this season, who in past years had in effect, been the entire nuisance program for the town.

Supervisor Jim Dougherty weighed in supporting increased hunting. “People are seeing — even as effective as the 4p0sters have been — the long term limitations of the program,” he said. “We’re committed to the 4-posters but we have to blend it with hunting.”

A conservative estimate by the New York State Department of Conservation counts somewhere between 35 to 50 deer per square mile in Suffolk County, with some areas hosting up to 100 deer. A controllable herd is somewhere in the range of eight to 10 deer per square mile.

Mr. Brown noted that communities in Maine and Connecticut have reached the manageable number though aggressive hunting.

“We can do a lot better than what is going on,” Mr. Brown said.

In other business, Town Attorney Laury Dowd reported that the Peconic Estuary Program — an organization made up of East End Towns and villages plus county and the state agencies — had contacted her with a list of “habitat restoration” priorities for Shelter Island.

The board has until November 15 to respond, but on /Tuesday agreed the priorities to be presented would be eel grass restoration in all harbors, with special emphasis on Coecles Harbor, Reel Point re-vegetation and phragmites eradication at the town-owned Turkem’s Rest property.

Kolina Reiter, in the public discussion part of the work session, urged the board to keep the ban on inground irrigation systems, which is under discussion by the Irrigation Committee.