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Town awaits word on 4-poster use

Debating the scheduling of meetings for 2020, the Deer & Tick Committee became entangled last week in what meetings might be vital because of changing strategies.

Police Chief Jim Read has been an advocate of fewer meetings than the current once a month schedule.

The committee is awaiting news from the state Department of Environmental Conservation on whether 4-poster units — feeding stands that brush deer with a tickicide, permethrin — can continue to be part of the arsenal used on the Island to combat tick-borne diseases. An anticipated plan from the DEC would require 100% of residents within a 745-foot radius of a 4-poster to give permission for unit placement unless the town receives a requested exemption.

If the DEC goes forward with the requirement and doesn’t grant the town an exemption, use of the units would likely end. That decision could come before the end of this month and then the Deer & Tick Committee would want a January meeting to redirect its resources, likely to increased efforts to cull the herd. A February meeting is unlikely with committee chairman Dr. James Bevilacqua will be unavailable for that session.

Right now, letters are being sent to residents who have allowed units to be placed on their property. That will allow Animal Control Officer Beau Payne to know who has to be contacted for permission to deploy those units. There’s no sense in seeking permission from neighbors before determining what sites would be available for the units in 2020, he told the committee.

An early March meeting is expected to assess the effectiveness of the first month of the Nuisance Wildlife Control Officers (NWCO) hunt , which occurs in February and March on the Island. Based on the first month’s numbers, the committee could opt to change some strategies for the specially licensed NWCO hunters in March.

Officer Payne told committee members that the tally for the recreational bow hunt in October and November was 87 deer killed by 40 hunters. In the same period of 2018, 27 hunters took 71 deer. The number of animals is less critical than the increase in hunters, Officer Payne said. He noted that more hunters have been reporting their takes as well.

Of the deer taken as of Nov. 30, 54 were from 19 town-managed properties, while in 2018, 30 deer were taken from 20 town-managed properties. As for distribution of deer meat, about 400 pounds of venison has been distributed from a refrigeration unit at the Recycling Center, compared with about 300 pounds last year. Any resident can take venison from the unit during the Recycling Center operating hours, 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day.