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Hunters meet at Town Hall

JULIE LANE PHOTO Shelter Island's Animal Control Officer Beau Payne.
Shelter Island’s Animal Control Officer Beau Payne.

About a dozen hunters gathered in Town Hall last Tuesday night for a report from the town’s Deer and Tick Committee. Chairman Dr. Jim Bevilaqua opened the meeting and turned it over to Animal Control Officer (ACO) Beau Payne.

Other officials in attendance were Councilmen Albert Dickson and Jim Colligan, Town Attorney Bob DeStefano Jr. and Police Chief Jim Reed.

ACO Payne thanked the hunters for their efforts and said, “The town’s deer management program is working.”

He explained how this is due in part to the success of the Nuisance Wildlife Control Operator (NWCO) program started last year. This enables hunters to get a permit from the State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to remove nuisance deer on property that is not normally hunted. The hunters are paid $250 for a butchered adult doe and $175 for other deer.

Mr. Colligan pointed out that does averages nearly two offspring per year and are responsible for the population growth. The town spent $10,000 on last year’s program and has allocated $20,000 for 2019. Nuisance hunts are carried out in February and March.

A course must be taken and the license holder must get the appropriate insurance which costs $695 per year. The nuisance hunters are independent contractors who receive 1099 forms from the town at the end of the year, ACO Payne said.

As far as the regular hunting season goes, it was explained that the cold storage unit will be back at the Cobbett’s Lane Firehouse to keep the meat safe. It was learned that last year, 2,600 pounds of venison went through the locker

“We coordinate with food pantries,” ACO Payne noted, adding that butchers are in demand and if anyone knows one they should let him know. He also said he will try to get keys to the cooler for those who want them.

Mr. Colligan praised the hunters, saying “We are so appreciative of what you do.” He read figures of deer hunt kills for the past three years that pointed to a marked increase, from 482 in 2015 to 550 in 2017.

“We’re increasing the deer harvest ,” he said, indicating that this will affect the tick population.