Deployment of 4-poster units — part of the town’s arsenal to lessen tick-borne diseases — begins Monday with 32 units to be placed.That’s down from last year’s 35 units because some private property owners who had allowed the units on their land have sold to new residents who don’t want them, according to Nick Ryan, the Highway Department worker certified to place and maintain the units. Others have just decided they don’t want to continue to provide their sites for 4-poster units, he said.
Committee member Marc Wein suggested it might be because some people think the units attract more deer, serving as feeding stations, but aren’t effective in rubbing the tickicide permethrin on deer necks to kill ticks.
Mr. Ryan would like to be able to place the additional units in areas off West Neck Road, near Hilo Drive.
He was to check the properties in that area and approach homeowners who might be willing to have the units deployed on their land.
If the effectiveness of the units is controversial, so, too, is the issue of what’s an effective number of deer to cull from the herd to reduce tick infestation.
The Deer & Tick Committee Wednesday morning had another go-around about the deer population on the Island with members speculating anywhere from 900 up to 2,000.
What the committee and various experts have determined is that to keep a deer population at a workable number year to year, at least 40 percent must be culled. But what constitutes 40 percent on the Island is debatable.
Mr. Wein insisted no one he knows believes the 900 number and most estimate the deer population here at between 1,200 and 2,000.
With 346 deer reported taken during the hunting season from October 1, 2014, through March 31, 2015, committee member Jim Colligan estimated that perhaps another 100 were culled but not reported and 50 more may have been killed in motor vehicle accidents. That would raise the number culled to about 500, he said.
Whatever the number, the committee agreed it wants another meeting with hunters to discuss their views about:
• What incentives would encourage them to try to take more deer?
• What would encourage more hunters to continue hunting into February and March?
• What changes in laws would they like to see that could make their efforts more productive?
A meeting is likely to be set on a weeknight prior to the Memorial Day weekend.
The committee also wants to explore ways to open up more private land for hunting.
In an effort to create more public awareness about the problem of tick-borne diseases, the committee plans to launch an ad campaign that would focus on issues ranging from how to protect oneself from being bitten by ticks to various efforts to reduce the number of deer on which the ticks feed.
Plans call for launching the campaign in the Reporter on May 21 with a story on the aim of the information campaign to follow. Ads would then run every other week in June, July and August that would tease longer pieces to be posted on the Shelter Island Police website about the issues.
One word of advice the committee wants to get out immediately is that this snowy and icy winter protected ticks. It would take at least two successive winters of very cold, but not snowy winters to kill ticks. Otherwise, they’re protected by the snow.
“You pretty much have to be careful starting now,” Mr. Colligan warned residents and visitors about the chance of being bitten.