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All neighbors will have to agree for 4-posters to continue on Shelter Island

Although town residents whose properties are within 745 feet of a planned 4-poster unit received letters asking their permission to deploy them, the cutoff date for a response has changed. Town officials still need to hear from neighbors whether they agree to allow continued deployment of the units — feeding stands that brush deer with a tickicide, permethrin — Animal Control Officer Beau Payne said.

The new requirement imposed by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) prohibits deployment within that 745-foot area of a property unless 100% of neighbors agree.

There have been a few people in areas where the deployments were scheduled who object to continued use of the units, Officer Payne said.

He sent the letters to neighbors in late January, but the letters proved controversial to some who questioned statements they aren’t convinced are correct. One recipient said he considered the letter “aggressive.”

The letter said the 4-poster units “helped to significantly suppress tick populations since the program began” in 2008. The letters further stated that continued deployment is important to reducing ticks on the Island.

Research conducted in various areas have shown a reduction, Officer Payne said.

“No other efficacy claims are made or implied in the letter,” he said.

The Deer & Tick Committee will have to make a decision, likely in early March, about whether enough units can be deployed to maintain the program, he added. In the past year, the town deployed 31 units, while six were deployed at Mashomack Preserve.

The DEC has argued that feeding deer is the wrong approach, and the 4-poster units use corn to attract deer to the units.

Among Deer & Tick Committee members, most have expressed interest in eventually ending use of 4-posters, but believe it’s too early in the battle against tick-borne diseases to take that step now.

Two members have been diametrically opposed in their attitudes. Hank Amann swears by the effectiveness of the units and argues in favor of maintaining them. Marc Wein questions whether long-term use of permethrin is safe and even if safe, whether it continues to be effective.

He has argued, as have other committee members, for stepped-up culling of the deer herd. Police Chief Jim Read said he has no objection to increased culling, but has yet to hear from anyone about how money for culling would be spent effectively.

He said residents have no appetite for bringing in sharpshooters. There’s already a program that gives hunters entries into a raffle for gift certificates for sporting equipment if they participate in the town hunt.

But the chief isn’t convinced that raising the level of money on those gift certificates will result in culling more deer. Instead, he said the town could be paying more for the same results.

Numbers released this month by Mr. Payne indicate a slight drop in the results of the recreational deer hunting period that ended Jan. 31. Hunters took 341 deer compared with 349 for the same period last year. There were 32 hunters who took 104 of those deer on 24 town-managed properties. Last year, there were 31 hunters who took 142 deer from 25 town-managed properties.

There were 614 pounds of meat donated as compared with 665 pounds for the same period last year. Deer meat is available without charge from a unit at the Recycling Center.

Facts & Figures

  • Recreational hunt ended Jan. 30 and 341 deer culled
  • 32 hunters took 104 deer from 24 town-managed properties
  • 92 deer were stored in the freezer at the Cobbetts Lane Firehouse, compared with 103 in 2019
  • 30 deer taken for personal use by the hunters, compared with 31 the previous year
  • 614 pounds of venison made available without charge and are stored in a unit at the Recycling Center
  • 665 pounds of venison made available to the public last year

Source: Shelter Island’s Deer & Tick Committee