4-Poster program leads agenda for Deer and Tick meeting


REPORTER FILE PHOTO Deer feeding at a 4-Poster unit.
Deer feeding at a 4-poster unit.

Shelter Island’s Deer and Tick Committee will be returning to discussions about deployment of  4-posters Wednesday morning.

The aim is to ensure that the units are in place early enough to maximize their effectiveness, according to Committee Chairman Mike Scheibel.

The town plans to deploy 34 units, with more to be put out at Mashomack Preserve. More could be placed as money comes in from contributions, enabling the town to expand its program.

When the 4-posters were initially deployed on Shelter Island in a test program that ran from 2008 through 2011 under a program funded by New York State, Suffolk County and the town, there were 60 units. But when the town took over the program on its own in 2012, it could afford many fewer units, putting out 15 that year and about 19 in 2013.

There was a dramatic drop in the tick population during the years of the trial, but with so many fewer units deployed in 2012 and 2013, there was a 200 percent spike in the tick population  reported in 2013, according to  Mr. Scheibel. Committee member Steve Lenox told his colleagues that the town needs a minimum of 50 units for them to be effective.

While Councilman Ed Brown, the Town Board’s liaison to the committee, questioned whether it was the deployment of 4-posters or weather factors that deceased the tick population, Mr. Lenox told him at an earlier meeting that he thought the 4-posters were what made the difference.

To be most effective, the units should be in place by the end of March or early April, according to J. Matthews Pound, one of the developers of the device for the United States Department of Agriculture. That provides the ability to kill ticks before they can lay thousands of eggs and produce a new generation , he said.

The committee will also be discussing ways to approach educating the public about the problems and possible solutions to tackling both tick borne diseases and an increased deer population that is resulting in more traffic accidents here and in other communities.

Mr. Scheibel expects to be releasing updated information on the number of deer killed this year both by hunters in the town and those who shoot at Mashomack . Shelter Island, along with most of its East End neighbors, opted out of the sharpshooter program launched by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Only Southold opted to use the sharpshooters but the jury is still out if the program is proving effective and what it’s costing.

Despite Mr. Scheibel’s call for hiring a deer management professionalcurrently being split among several town workers, there has been no movement in that direction. That’s likely to be an ongoing topic of discussion for the committee.

The meeting at Town Hall Wednesday gets under way at 10 a.m. Wednesday.