Deliberations undertaken by the Deer & Tick Committee have zeroed in on a decision to ask for an 18.2 percent raise in the 2019 budget for the town’s deer management program.
The request will be proffered next month when committees and departments go before the Town Board to plead their cases.
The proposed request is a lot of money, going from 2018’s budget of $159,533 to $188,500 for next year. But it’s completely justified because it will be well spent.
The D&T Committee is doing impressive work, joining with Police Chief Jim Read and Animal Control Officer (ACO) Beau Payne to put strategies in place to reduce Shelter Island’s deer herd.
Tick-borne illnesses remain a health crisis on Shelter Island, the same as in most northeastern states.
The 4-poster program — feeding stands that brush deer with a tickicide, permethrin — are still controversial, although the consensus is they kill ticks that carry disease and must be funded. But culling the herd means less ticks as well.
However, a deer population that is constantly expanding is not just about ticks, but also about the ecology of the Island. Deer feed on important ground cover and denude wide portions of preserved property. In addition, too many deer means serious danger on the roads from vehicle/deer accidents.
The D&T Committee has pushed to get more hunters into the field to cull the herd, and its efforts are having success. At a recent meeting of Island hunters hosted by the committee, ACO Payne thanked the sportsmen and said part of a rosier picture on plans to cull the herd were due in part to the success of the Nuisance Wildlife Control Operator (NWCO) program started last year.
This program allows hunters to get permits from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation 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.
The D&T Committee, along with ACO Payne, can also count as a success the installation of a cooler at the Manhanset Firehouse where hunters can store deer carcasses until it’s convenient to remove them or to deliver them to butchers. Venison is also stored at the Recycling Center where it is available, free of charge, to the public.
It’s been proven that the deer management program is working, through innovative ideas and dedication. The request for a boost in funds for 2019 should be granted.