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Shelter Island Deer & Tick Committee gets update: A new hunter’s aid is sought

Twenty-seven Island hunters, in the first two months of the recreational hunt — through the end of November — have taken 65 deer.

Bay Constable Beau Payne told the Deer & Tick Committee on Dec. 6 that the numbers over the same period last year were 63 deer taken by 23 hunters.

Of the 65 deer taken this year, 35 were on town-managed properties, again similar to the 33 deer taken from 15 town-managed properties last year.

The town has awarded $600 to hunters through raffles provided as incentives to encourage them to work to decrease the herd. Officer Payne said he does see some correlation between offering incentives and the efforts hunters are making.

Committee member Julia Weisenberg told her colleagues it takes about 30 hours of hunting to take a single deer. Also, with new hunters, she would like to encourage mentorships by experienced hunters, and she would also like to be able to help the newer hunters with resources to get equipment, especially double tree stands that can accommodate a mentor and a new hunter.

Ms. Weisenberg noted two young hunters have joined the town’s program, but a third who would like to do so can’t afford a bow.

Ms. Weisenberg also said she has completed a hunter education course so she can teach would-be hunters. She would like to see other Islanders get certified so those interested in becoming hunters could become locally certified instead of having to travel off-Island to Huntington as she did.

There may be some money in the town’s 2024 budget that could be used to help purchase equipment, Councilman Jim Colligan said.

At the same time, he said financial contributions from non-hunters who benefit from a reduced herd could lead to substantial funding to assist new hunters.

Besides reducing the herd to control tick-borne diseases, many hunters contribute deer meat to the town that is butchered and made available to residents at no charge from a refrigerated unit at the Recycling Center.

In the first two months of the hunt this year, 44 deer have been stored, the same number as last year during the same period. Of those, 20 were taken back by the hunters for personal use, while 24 were taken back last year.

As of the end of November, 475 pounds of deer meat have been available from the refrigerated unit at the Recycling Center, compared with 300 pounds of venison last year.

Since the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation in 2019 banned the use of 4-poster units — feeding stands that brush deer with a tickicide, permethrin — aimed at killing ticks, there has been attention to tracking tick numbers to determine if they are increasing.

Mr. Payne said the same fluctuations recorded during the years when the 4-poster units were used continue to be reflected in the years since they were banned. The number of black-legged ticks is slightly down this year, he said.

Thanks all around

Mr. Colligan, who has been liaison from the Town Board to the Deer & Tick Committee for eight years, chose not to seek re-election this year, but told committee members he would be interested in being appointed as a committee member in the future. He was a member prior to his election to the Town Board.

It was his second indication that while he chose to retire from the Town Board, he hopes to remain active, with the Deer & Tick Committee and the Peconic Estuary Partnership in the future.

He thanked committee members for their work and they, in turn, thanked him for his commitment to the committee.