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Town to appoint animal control officer to focus on deer

REPORTER FILE PHOTO | Numbers for  deer culled this year are up.
REPORTER FILE PHOTO | Numbers for deer culled this year are up.

What started in controversy a year ago as the Deer & Tick Committee debated priorities in reducing tick-borne diseases is ending with pats on the back with the anticipated naming of a new animal control officer within the next couple of weeks.

The announcement came from Councilman Jim Colligan at the April 6 Deer & Tick Committee meeting.

To relieve other town employees from spending time connected with the deer and tick effort, the committee recommended hiring a full-time animal control officer.

His job will include deploying and maintaining 4-poster units, the feeding stands that brush deer with a tickicide, permethrin; establishing relationships with property owners where deer hunts can be conducted; administering the town’s incentive program for hunters; coordinating paperwork necessary to tracking statistics; and hunting to increase the number of deer taken.

Two non-Islanders originally applied for the job, but the one the Town Board preferred, accepted another position.

Subsequently, two Islanders applied for the job and one of them is expected to be named shortly.

“I think it’s going to be a home run,” Mr. Colligan said about the person the Town Board expects to name. He thanked Highway

Department worker Nick Ryan for the “backbreaking work” he has been doing in deploying and maintaining the 4-poster units. After training the new animal control officer, Mr. Ryan will return to his full-time job with the Highway Department.

Work will also be lifted from the shoulders of Police Chief Jim Read and Deer & Tick Committee secretary Jennifer Beresky. The chief has coordinated the deer hunts on the Island and, along with Ms. Beresky, handled tracking of numbers and other paperwork.

Ms. Beresky also works for the Police and Highway departments.

Committee Chairman Mike Scheibel praised Supervisor Jim Dougherty and Mr. Colligan for their efforts in moving the hiring forward while Mr. Dougherty credited the committee with initiating the idea.

Hunt Numbers
The number of deer culled on the Island between October 1, 2015 and March 31, 2016 hit a new high of 482, Ms. Beresky told the committee. Her numbers include those deer taken on properties the town controls, Mashomack Preserve, Sylvester Manor and deer taken by private property owners who secured permits to hunt on their land.

The previous high was 478 a few years ago; last year the total was 370, Ms. Beresky said.

Mr. Scheibel called the increase “bittersweet,” noting that it could be good news that more deer were bagged, but it could also indicate there has been an increase in the number of the animals on the Island.

Committee member Scott Campbell, laboratory director of the Suffolk County Department of Health Services, said he would like to see calculations going forward on the number of days hunters are in the field. That might help track the effectiveness of the hunt versus a simple increase in the number of deer, he said.