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Deer tracking flyover endorsed for Shelter Island

The Deer & Tick Committee is likely to ask the Town Board for the same $60,000 for deer management that is in its current budget, members agreed last week.

The committee unanimously agreed they should plan another flyover in 2023, after hearing advice from Chairman Dr. James Bevilacqua, who noted, “You can’t manage what you don’t know.”

With Town budgeting generally starting in September, the issue will be resolved by mid-October. At the same time, just how much it might cost the Town would be determined on whether neighboring towns would share in hiring the pilot who has conducted the Island’s flyovers.

Pilot Larry Davis, who is based in Ohio, has an excellent reputation for accuracy. The flyover, which collects data based on information using infrared video techniques from 1,600 feet, that Mr. Davis conducted in March showed more deer on the Island than expected. A flyover in 2023 could help to determine what the trend is, the committee agreed at its Aug. 3 meeting.

Paul Curtis, professor in the Department of Natural Resources at Cornell University, said if it’s fiscally possible, Shelter Island would be well served by another flyover, according to committee member Scott Campbell, Ph.D., who is Suffolk County Department of Health Services Arthropod-Borne Disease Lab Director.

Professor Curtis knows Shelter Island and the deer herd in the Town, having been involved in the pilot 4-poster program more than a dozen years ago, Mr. Campbell said.

Another subject for the committee is the ongoing effort to convince more property owners to allow hunting in order to reach areas where deer are known to be.

Member Julia Weisenberg also talked about a program to be offered at the library at 6 p.m. on Sept. 15, where people interested in bow hunting can learn about the sport.

The aim is to attract additional hunters to participate in the recreational hunt on the Island that typically begins in October.