After weeks of revisions, a 20-question survey dealing with deer and ticks is scheduled to be mailed this week to approximately 3,500 people on the Island, including property owners who receive their tax bills at residences off-Island.
The survey is also posted online at shelterislanddeerandtick.org.
The town’s Deer & Tick Committee, which met August 2, is hoping for a rapid return on the survey so results can be tallied in September and used to help guide the 2018 budgeting process that takes place during the fall.
The survey seeks general information on whether respondents have had tick bites or tick-borne diseases and what steps people may take to avoid problems with ticks.
It also seeks information about attitudes that relate to culling the deer herd.
Among suggestions that have been discussed are:
• Increasing the number of hunters here who are licensed as “nuisance wildlife control officers” (NWCO) with “deer damage permits” to increase the number of deer taken during February and March, after the regular hunting season ends on January 31. Deer damage hunting helps communities overrun with deer by allowing special licenses issued by the State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to hunt outside the regular hunting seasons.
• Increasing the number of private properties where owners allow hunting to take place.
• Bringing is trainers from White Buffalo Inc., a Connecticut-based company, to make more efficient use of the Island’s recreational hunters — an idea discussed in the past that hasn’t been on the radar lately
Another survey question is whether residents support increasing deer and tick-related funding to expand efforts to reduce the incidence of tick-borne diseases. The current budget is $127,000, including $25,000 that the state provided for use in deploying and maintaining 4-poster units — feeding stands that brush deer with a tickicide, permethrin.
If the town can attract more hunters to get NWCO licenses, they could be paid directly to cull deer.
The DEC only allows direct payment during the deer damage hunt when it can be shown the animals are ruining property or causing health problems, according to Animal Control Officer Beau Payne.
During the regular hunting season, Shelter Island rewards its hunters by entering them into a lottery for sports equipment gift certificates, which is allowed under DEC regulations.
Committee member Marc Wein suggested increasing the lottery awards to make it worthwhile for recreational hunters to continue to take deer from October 1 to January 31.
COOL PLACE FOR COOLER?
The town-owned parking area adjacent to the Manhanset Firehouse on Cobbetts Lane could be a site for placement of a cold storage locker where deer hunters could bring an animal carcass for storage until it could either be butchered for meat to be given away to residents or taken by the original hunter for his or her own use.
Committee members hope the locker will encourage hunters to cull more deer since they wouldn’t have to store the carcass on their own or get it to a butcher sooner. Hunters would have to label the carcasses they bring in, indicating the date of arrival and if they intend the meat for themselves.
Otherwise, the town would have it taken to a butcher and then moved to the freezer at the Recycling Center where residents are able to claim venison without charge.