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Committee: Deer kills down at start of hunt

JIM COLLIGAN PHOTO

JIM COLLIGAN PHOTO

The number of deer culled from the herd on Shelter Island in October — the first month of the recreational hunting season — was down from the number recorded for the same month in 2016.

Animal Control Officer Beau Payne told the Deer & Tick Committee at its November 1 meeting that 33 deer were killed by 15 hunters last month compared with 41 taken by 14 hunters in October 2016.

“We’re lagging a bit overall,” Mr. Payne said, noting that while there was one more hunter making the effort last month, overall, the effort has been less successful. Following up his presentation to the Town Board October 31 of results form an Island-wide survey, Mr. Payne returned to the numbers of people who support culling and those who support use of 4-poster units.

There were 53 percent of respondents who favored ongoing use of the 4-poster units —    feeding stands that brush deer with a tickicide, permethrin. Another 27 percent said they didn’t support the continued use of the units and 20 percent were undecided.

There were 82 percent who favored recreation hunting to cull the herd and 10 percent who said no, with 8 percent undecided.

Supervisor Jim Dougherty asked the committee if he could go back to State Senator Kenneth LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) and Assemblyman Fred Thiele (I-Sag Harbor) and tell them the committee continued to support use of the 4-posters. The members agreed the town should solicit funds for the program..

The supervisor blamed criticism of the cut in state aid for the units in the past year on a perception that the committee was split on attitudes about cost and effectiveness. In the years 2015-2016 the town received $100,000 for each year, while this year state aid was $25,000,

During the Town Board meeting on October 31, Mr. Dougherty said he was hoping to get increased state aid that wouldn’t be specifically tied to the 4-posters, but could be allocated by the committee with board’s approval for whatever tick-reducing effort might be undertaken.

Deer & Tick Committee Chairman Mike Scheibel noted that 4-posters get at the symptoms, but don’t eliminate the problem of tick infestations.

Dr. James Bevilacqua advised that without culling the herd, the deer would die of starvation or illness.

Mr. Payne told the committee the following day that information provided from respondents beyond the immediate answers to 20 questions was extensive.

Some wrote brief comments, while others wrote long letters with suggestions.

The responses will provide a means for a further study as the Deer & Tick Committee works to improve its efforts to fight tick-borne diseases, Mr. Payne said.

The committee has already acknowledged its desire to step up the educational effort to make Islanders better aware of what is being done here and what other communities are trying to deal with their tick infestations.

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