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Featured Letter to the Editor

REPORTER FILE PHOTO | A deer feeding at a 4-poster stand, brushing against a post treated with a chemical, permethrin, that kills ticks.

REPORTER FILE PHOTO | A deer feeding at a 4-poster stand, brushing against a post treated with a chemical, permethrin, that kills ticks.

Time to turn pro
To the Editor:
Peter Reich, in his farewell letter, put it well: “If all five (board members) agreed on everything, we would only need one person up there.” Disagreement is the essence of a democracy, but how the disagreement is expressed is critical; views expressed too strongly can become upsetting and counterproductive.

That such was happening last week was evident from your account of the June 3 meeting in Town Hall regarding the impact of 4-posters on our Island environment. In the interests of full disclosure, I should say that Marc Wein, Deer and Tick Committee member, is a good and long-standing friend of mine, and I get upset when I sense that someone of his dedication is being bullied in a public forum — not that Marc’s an easy man to bully.

Four-posters have been around for more than nine years and I can recall no time during that period when their use has been unanimously accepted. In the beginning, the cost of the 4-posters and related supplies was the subject of public fundraising but, as support eroded and questions arose regarding the feeding of the deer and continued use of questionable chemicals, the town took over the cost.

At the same time, the deer size increased, largely, it can be assumed, due to generous feeding. There was a lot of related community discussion but never, it seems, was the question ever put to a public referendum-style vote: Should we do away with the 4-posters and related chemicals, and instead undertake a sustained professional deer cull?

My personal view has always been that, unless we use professionals to reduce our deer herd to a long-term sustainable level and, supplemented by regular hunting, keep it there, we will never know whether Lyme disease is a product of too many deer or something unique to Shelter Island.

I’ve been around for quite a long time — enough to remember the wonders of DDT and its assured safety. My hope at this time is that the Town Board will stop feeding the deer, stop using permethrin in a manner that can impact our water supply, and use the money saved to pay professional hunters.
MICHAEL COLES
Shelter Island

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