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Deer & Tick Committee plans Island-wide survey for July

REPORTER FILE PHOTO  Dragging for ticks at Mashomack to count count them.

REPORTER FILE PHOTO Dragging for ticks at Mashomack to count them.

After years of speculating how residents view deer and tick problems and solutions to stop tick-borne illnesses, the town’s Deer & Tick Committee is ready to ask the people.

The committee plans to distribute a two-page survey in July to residents and visitors through the mail, possibly online and by distribution at Town Hall.

A draft of the survey seeks information on whether people perceive a problem here; have had direct problems with tick bites and/or tick-borne diseases; and the steps they may have taken to protect their properties.

They will also be asking about vehicular accidents involving deer, assuming not all accidents are reported to the police.

Other questions relate to the use of 4-poster units — feeding stands that brush deer with a tickicide, permethrin — and the perception people have of their effectiveness, cost and safety, and the effort to cull the deer herd, since experts agree if there are fewer deer, there will be fewer ticks on the Island.

In the hope of reaching as many people as possible, the committee will gather lists of those with mail boxes on the Island as well a list from tax rolls and merge and purge the two to eliminate double mailings.

At the suggestion of Councilman Jim Colligan, the Town Board’s liaison to the committee, the surveys will also be distributed through the Shelter Island Association that, in turn, will be distributed to individual neighborhood associations.

The aim is to receive responses in August so they can be tallied and help inform the committee about how to budget in the fall for the year ahead.

Under the current budget of about $127,000, 77 percent of spending supports the 4-poster deployment and maintenance; 16 percent goes to deer management; and the remaining 7 percent is spent on educational efforts, according to Animal Control Officer Beau Payne.

Some of the money allocated during the past few years has come from state aid, with the town receiving $100,000 from the state for two successive years before the aid dropped to $25,000 in the past year.