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This week in Shelter Island history


Joe Frazier knocked out Dave Zyglewick in the first round to win the heavyweight boxing title at the Sam Houston Coliseum in Houston, Texas.

Winners at the 23rd Annual Tony Awards were “Great White Hope” and “1776.”

The first human eye transplant was performed at Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas.

Melina Mercouri, a Greek actress, whose breakout film was “Never on Sunday,”  for which she won a Cannes Film Festival Award, established the Greek Aid Fund.

An earthquake measured as a 2 on a scale of 1 to 5 struck in North Carolina, killing two people and injuring 30.

And on Shelter Island . . .


Starving deer are signs of overpopulation

Fifty years ago, deer seen nibbling on plants along the roadway were relatively small in size, and had puffy faces, signs that the number of the animals on the Island had grown to the point where there wasn’t a sufficient supply of food to sustain then.

Vegetation on the Island was being decimated by the deer, according to Regional Game Manager John Rekavinsky. Mr. Rekavinsky speculated that the rabbit population was also down because the deer had been eating the rabbits’ food. As the wild plantings were being eaten, the deer had taken to eating plants in peoples’ yards and gardens.

POSTSCRIPT:  There is no accurate count of deer here, but it’s estimated that the Island has, perhaps, 100 or more per square mile.


Four seek Board of Ed seats

Cliff Clark, Maria Shields, Gerry Siller and Linda Springer were vying for one open seat on the Board of Education in the spring of 1989. Mr. Clark was the victor in the race with a platform of retaining a kindergarten through grade 12 school on the Island.

He praised Marlene Berman, who was superintendent at the time, for what he called her strength and professionalism and said he would turn over his organizational skills at directing the Island’s 10K to apply himself to Board of Education responsibilities.

POSTSCRIPT: This year there are three seats open with only Jason Lones seeking to remain on the board while Thomas Graffagnino and Mark Kanarvogel are stepping down. Petitions from other candidates will soon reveal who else would like a board seat.

The election is scheduled for May 21 when voters will choose both their Board of Education members and act on a budget for the 2019-20 school year.


Plover power pummels planting

At the last minute, plans for a planting restoration project scheduled to occur at the Second Causeway was cancelled. The project was led by The Group for the South Fork — now named the Group for the East End. Partners in the plantings were the Garden Club of Shelter Island, Shelter Island Association, Ram Island Association, the town of Shelter Island and Shelter Island students.

The Army Corps of Engineers, which had done work shoring up the Second Causeway, had called a halt to the planting because piping plover nests would be disturbed.

There was thought of moving the planting project to Reel Point, but plover nests there stopped the project for months.

POSTSCRIPT: Plantings to involve both the town and Peconic Land Trust are planned for the third phase of the Reel Point project, but again, the work will have to take place at a time when the piping plovers aren’t on Reel Point.


Health Department calls for protocol examination of testing procedure

One deer in five culled and sampled by Cornell University scientists tested positive for permethrin in muscle tissues. In announcing the results, then supervisor Jim Dougherty said that the result was well above the tolerance level but was considered a false positive by scientists overseeing Shelter Island’s 4-poster program. He said he wanted the information made public so people could make their own decisions about the safety of the deer meat.

The lab report showed that muscle and liver samples and swabs of deer hides were taken from five deer culled on the Island and one deer from the control site in North Haven. Permethrin was found on the swabs of all five deer hides from animals culled on the Island.

Dr. Jim Lynch of the New York State Department of Health said he was convinced cross-contamination was responsible for the readings and he called for an examination of the protocol used to test the deer.

The town opted to pay to have its own testing done.      

POSTSCRIPT: To this day, there have been no cases of anyone sickened by eating the deer meat, but there are still people here, including some hunters, who won’t eat the meat.

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