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New mission for Shelter Island Deer & Tick Committee

The Deer & Tick Committee is considering a change to its mission to emphasize what its chairman sees as the most significant purpose of its work.

Dr. James Bevilacqua shared a draft revision of the committee’s mission statement with members of his committee at the May 1 meeting, asking them to think about the change and offer comments between now and the group’s July meeting.

The existing statement calls for managing deer and tick populations at levels that are “appropriate for human and ecological concerns.”

It is accompanied by specific goals to continue:

• To support a multi-pronged approach that specifically aims at the culling of the deer herd, reducing tick density and educating the public.

• To measure the progress of management goals by utilizing scientific and statistical data.

• To recruit additional hunters, including those with a Nuisance Wildlife Control License issued by the State Department of Environmental Conservation and to seek  additional properties around Shelter Island for hunting.

• To help educate the Shelter Island Community concerning the importance of protection against tick-borne disease and related issues.

• To obtain local, county and state government support that helps address tick-borne disease and deer density as a major health issue.

The goals aren’t in question, but Dr. Bevilacqua suggests changing the mission statement as follows: “To advise the Town Board on measures deemed socially and ecologically acceptable as well as fiscally responsible in lowering deer and tick populations as low as possible in an effort to decrease the incidence of tick-borne disease in the Island population.”

He noted that specific numbers reflecting goals for tick and deer numbers would be eliminated.

Councilman Benjamin Dyett, liaison to the committee, suggested members should discuss the changes to the mission statement and when ready, send it to the Town Board for its consideration.

Member Julia Weisenberg, who has been leading the education subcommittee, shared initiatives undertaken to teach the public how to avoid tick bites and to check for ticks after walking around the town, especially in sites such as Mashomack Preserve and other areas where ticks are prevalent.

The town Facebook page includes educational material and Reporter cartoonist Peter Waldner had provided a cartoon for the April 25 issue dealing with the subject.

Ms. Weisenberg noted using a cartoon approach was to bring a bit of levity to the very serious subject of tick-borne diseases with the hope it would be engaging for people who might not otherwise pay attention to more serious postings.

She noted the archery program for students began its second season last Saturday and the program is already over-subscribed, as is the second program that launches in June.

She also noted an educational program for students in grades 3 through 6 will be held at the school in conjunction with Mashomack Preserve’s Education and Outreach Coordinator Cindy Belt and Outreach Program Coordinator Rebecca Kusa. The session is set for May 22.

Posters have been created to promote awareness of tick-bite protection and advice on proper preparation meals from cuts of venison that are available to residents in season at a refrigerated unit at the Recycling Center.