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Island hunters offer suggestions to improve deer cull

JULIE LANE PHOTO Animal Control Officer Beau Payne told hunters Tuesday night the town Deer & Tick Committee is open to suggestions to increase the cull.

Animal Control Officer Beau Payne told hunters Tuesday night the town Deer & Tick Committee is open to suggestions to increase the cull.

Shelter Island hunters offered several suggestions to increase the number of deer culled from the herd at a special Deer & Tick Committee meeting Tuesday night.

Nine hunters attended, the third such meeting within the last year aimed at creating a dialogue between the hunters and town officials.

“I’m open to all your suggestions,” said Animal Control Officer Beau Payne.

Among the suggestions that seemed to interest the hunters and the committee were:
• Establishing an online site where hunters could find properties open for hunting.
• The possibility of providing more money to hunters for equipment they use to bag deer. The State Department of Environmental Conservation prohibits a bounty on the animals, but has allowed the town to operate a lottery system with sporting goods gift cards as prizes. Each licensed hunter registered with the town gains an entry into the lottery for each deer taken. In the past, awards have been given every two weeks to the hunter whose name is picked from a hat. Now that will be increased to a $100 gift certificate for the first person chosen and a $50 certificate for the second in a two-week cycle.
• An understanding that among the approximately 30 Island sites available for hunting, there has to be information when they are opened and closed to hunting. The closings will allow other groups to use the areas for hiking, birding and similar activities.

Another suggestion from the hunters was to extend the use of crossbows that are allowed only during the deer damage season in February and March. That will require DEC approval and Mr. Payne suggested the Deer & Tick Committee contact legislators to lobby for a longer crossbow season.

Hunter Bruce Raheb had a host of suggestions, including more money allocated to culling than for corn to fill 4-poster units that rub the necks of deer with the tickicide permethrin as the animals feed at the stations.

That’s something Deer & Tick Committee Chairman Mike Scheibel said he would like to see happen at Mashomack Preserve where he is natural resources manager, and at town sites. But the large herd on the Island would have to be substantially reduced before the committee could consider abandoning or reducing the number of 4-posters.

Mr. Scheibel said hunting is already taking place at Mashomack and said he invited hunters to participate during the deer damage permit season in February and March.

Mr. Raheb said while he hunts deer, he doesn’t eat the meat because of the fear of permethrin. Mr. Payne and other hunters said they have no such fear and eat the meat, give it away to friends and relatives and provide it for the freezer at the Town Recycling Center where residents are welcome to the venison.

But Mr. Raheb questioned whether the permethrin is making the deer sick and more prone to diarrhea.

Mr. Scheibel said there are unintended consequences to the use of corn to lure the deer to the 4-posters and that might be responsible for deer illnesses, but didn’t think diarrhea was among the problems and didn’t blame permethrin for problems.

In the past, the Fire Department has cooperated with a “fireman push” in which some members hunt, while others help move deer into areas where they can more easily be culled. Reviving the effort is something the committee will consider.

If the initial meeting with hunters last year brought some skepticism from those attending, there appeared to be a meeting of the minds Monday night.