2006-01-19 / News

Deer control document ready for Town Council’s review

By Sam Bari

Deer control document ready for Town Council’s review

The entire Jan. 12 meeting of the Wildlife Committee was used to cover the writing of recommendations to the Town Council for culling the island’s deer population.

Every committee member drafted a proposal and the contents of each were discussed in detail, one item at a time. The best wording was selected from the individual documents and committee member Wendy Harvey and Chairman Chris Savastano are now compiling a final draft.

The contents of the final draft will address four topics that the committee believes are paramount to controlling the deer herd. The topics are: access to land, revising hunting regulations, habitat management, and Lyme disease.

The objectives of the document were clearly defined. The panel agreed that both the state Department of Environmental Management study of the number of deer as well as the Holtera Study commissioned by the Humane Society of Jamestown concurred. Both studies estimate the number of deer on Conanicut Island to be 40 to 45 deer per square mile. The recommended number of deer per square mile is 10 to 15.

The committee agreed to recommend implementing methods designed to reduce the herd to 20 to 25 deer per square mile as quickly as possible. After the initial culling, they will change the methodology to continue reducing the size of the herd gradually with a sensible management program.

The panel discussed in detail the importance of assisting landowners in talking to hunters about giving them permission to hunt on qualified land. Access to town land and possibly watershed land were also considered.

Representing the police department, Acting Chief of Police Lt. William Donovan proposed setting up a system to regulate each parcel of town land where hunting could be permitted.

When the discussion turned to hunting, Donovan suggested asking the DEM for a special season in Jamestown at the end of the regular hunting season to help further cull the herd. Committee member Dick Rembijas noted that it would be important to make a special hunt for deer without antlers. Other suggestions included a possible extra week of shotgun or second shotgun season.

Donovan emphasized that the extra week of hunting only be allowed in Jamestown, otherwise the purpose of attracting hunters would be greatly diminished. He also noted the importance of allowing at least a week after the regular season before starting a special hunt. The time would give the deer a break from the pressure of hunters and allow the herd to settle down.

Savastano proposed to revise the ordinance on muzzle loaders to allow guns with rifled barrels. The consensus was that lifting the ban on rifling, which makes a gun more accurate, was a good idea. The panel also agreed that increasing the number of tags from the current allowance of one buck and one antlerless, to one buck and four anterless deer would be a sensible recommendation.

The remainder of the meeting was used to discuss habitat management that included landscaping, programs for preventing Lyme disease, and methods of informing the public on all matters of deer management.

Savastano will present the completed draft to the Town Council at its second meeting in February. The committee is confident that effective programs for controlling the deer herd will be adopted for the coming year.

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