The Town Board made some decisions at its work session Tuesday on deer management.
The board addressed Supervisor Jim Dougherty’s request to look at the function and charge of the Town Deer and Tick Committee and Councilman Ed Brown’s call for a review of all aspects of the town’s deer management program.
With the unexpected resignation of Patricia Shillingburg as the chairwoman of the committee two weeks ago, Mr. Dougherty said then it was an opportunity to “re-cast the function of the group” and “make it a real, positive, constrictive force.”
The 2005 board resolution that set up the committee charged it with promoting public education and ranges from how to “minimize exposure to ticks and dealing with tick bites” to how to reduce the deer herd through hunting and setting up 4-poster units, the stands that puts insecticide on feeding deer.
All members agreed the committee is achieving the goal of educating the public on the dangers of ticks. But Police Department Chief Jim Read, who leads the town’s efforts in culling the deer herd, said the committee should place emphasis on the deer management section of its duties.
“The focus has become ticks, and we really want to say to the committee, ‘Hey, look, we need to get back on the deer part of the charge.”
When the committee was formed eight years ago there were 11 members, which now has dwindled to five, with only three active members, according to Jennifer Zacha, a police department employee who has worked with Chief Read on deer management for the town.
“We’ve done a better job reducing [the committee’s] population than the deer,” Councilman Paul Shepherd said with a smile.
Efforts were needed to get more volunteers on the committee, members agreed, but 11 volunteers would be unwieldy, Councilman Peter Reich said. Supervisor Dougherty recommended seven, which “gives an opportunity for more community participation.”
Chief Read suggested Ms. Zacha chair the committee, even though she’s a paid employee of the town. Mr. Dougherty said the appointment would be considered.
A review of the town’s deer management program has been set for the work session of Tuesday, November 19 at the request of Mr. Brown. He said all aspects of the effort should be aired where the public can weigh in with questions and suggestions.
Whether Shelter Island should become part of a regional effort to reduce deer herds and control ticks was up for discussion after an invitation was received to attend a meeting in Riverhead on the matter.
Supervisor Dougherty said the invitation came from Long Island Farm Bureau Director Joe Gergela to meet with other municipalities to discus the issue. Mr. Dougherty said he was told that to participate in the regional organization would cost $30,000.
“That 30,000,” Mr. Brown said, “is for what?”
“I have no idea,” Mr. Dougherty said.
Chief Read said he was not an “isolationist” and believed in partnerships with other municipalities, “but $30,000 sounds like we could put that to better use.”
He noted that Shelter Island was “already well ahead of the curve in comparison to these other towns. Lots of towns are looking to us for guidance.”
Mr. Reich said a better question to the newly formed organization would be to ask each municipality how much money they had already spent on deer management and tick control.
It was decided that since the regional meeting was Wednesday, November 6, at the same time as budget hearings, no board member could attend, but Ms. Zacha would represent the town would go report on the proceedings.
In other business, Town Attorney Laury Dowd gave the board a report on its solid waste management plan. This is a state-mandated document that must be made every 10 years that outlining the management, handling and disposal of refuse by a municipality.
At future work sessions the board will discuss the plan and can modify it before submitting a final draft for public comment. Then it goes to the New York State Department of Conservation, which reviews it for technical completeness. The Town Board then adopts the plan as its guide for the next decade.