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Deer & Tick budget won’t eliminate 4-poster use

The Deer & Tick Committee won’t be recommending changes in its priorities when it comes to budgeting for 2020, putting considerably more money into supporting its 4-poster program than culling efforts. But it’s contemplating asking for about $5,000 more for culling than it sought in the current year’s budget.

Four-posters are feeding stands that brush deer with a tickicide, permethrin.

The additional request for funds would increase the line for culling from $30,000 to $37,000.

The committee expects to seek $2,000 more for its educational spending to implement a program suggested by Julia Weisenberg, a candidate on the Republican ticket for Town Board. She asked the committee to promote the concept of hunters as conservationists who understand the need to cull the herd to diminish tick-borne diseases. She offered her assistance as a liaison to develop the program with the school. Ms. Weisenberg also said more women should be encouraged to become hunters.

Committee Chairman Jim Bevilacqua, M.D. said the reason he wasn’t recommending abandoning 4-poster units in 2020 is the limited time for budget development. Budget talks start this month with chairs of committees and heads of departments speaking informally about plans with Supervisor Gary Gerth and Deputy Supervisor Amber Brach-Williams.

The supervisor then makes recommendations for the budget that will be submitted to the Town Board for public meetings in October to finalize a 2020 budget.

Resident Vincent Novak called on the committee to work to eradicate all deer on the Island. The goal of the committee is to diminish the herd over the next couple of years, but not to eliminate all deer.

“I am totally against total elimination of deer on Shelter Island,” Dr. Bevilacqua said.

Mr. Novak insisted the committee was failing to do its job to protect Islanders by not working for complete elimination of deer. Dr. Bevilacqua said he’s not sure that even if that could be done, it would end tick-borne diseases on the Island.

Animal Control Officer Beau Payne has been trying to increase the number of Nuisance Wildlife Control Officers (NWCOs) who help cull the herd during the town’s February and March hunt. But he noted that most NWCOs from other communities are dedicated to eradicating other pests, and when they hear about the Shelter Island program they express no interest.

Officer Payne asked that members invite potential NWCOs to enter the program, supplying names to him so he can vet them.