2006-11-16 / Editorial

The first step in controlling herd size

After several years of endless debate, deer hunting at Beavertail State Park finally got underway this week.

Only bow hunting is permitted.

The Town Council's decision to allow the bow hunt has survived its first court challenge from animal rights activists. Hunting locally has proven to be a polarizing topic and the council should be commended for making the hard choice.

The Beavertail deer hunt is not a panacea. The hunt is not expected to quickly alleviate the many problems caused by the island's rapidly expanding deer herd. But the hunt will help reduce the number of deer on the island and, hopefully, encourage private property owners to allow hunting on their lands.

Jamestowners are increasingly concerned about the Lyme disease threat the large deer population poses. The disease can cause many serious longterm health problems.

Other islanders are upset over the continuing property damage, saying that their gardens and landscaping have been ravaged by deer.

A growing number of deer are also involved in collisions with motor vehicles. Often fatal for the deer, such an accident can cause serious injury to the vehicle's occupants.

The island's deer herd is growing unchecked because of the limited hunting that has been allowed in Jamestown. The deer have no natural predators here and there is an almost unlimited supply of food. Opening public lands for deer hunting is an important first step to checking the population growth.

The town should, however, continue to evaluate alternative means of reducing the size of the deer herd. Humane methods that are proven effective and affordable could help further limit the number of deer in Jamestown.

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