2007-02-22 / Front Page

Archers take five deer at Beavertail

By Sam Bari

Five deer were harvested during the recent first-time-ever deer hunting season at Beavertail State Park.

The state Department of Environmental Management opened 100 acres at the north end of the park to hunters with bow and arrow from Nov. 13 to Jan. 31.

Last week, Lori Gibson, the DEM supervising wildlife biologist, posted the results. The special 66-day season attracted 34 registered hunters who harvested five deer in a little over nine weeks. In November and December, hunters were allowed in the park from Monday through Friday. During January, they hunted seven days a week.

"Although the numbers seem low, five deer is pretty good considering the number of hunters and the conditions of the hunt," Gibson said. She also said the DEM expected the numbers to be low the first season. "If we do it again next year, we hope to attract more hunters and get better results," she said.

Dick Rembijas, a lifelong Jamestown resident and hunter, agreed with Gibson. He said that 14 percent of registered hunters bagging a deer is a respectable number considering the hunting conditions. "I would not have been surprised if the number were around eight percent. The area is flat. There are few tree stands. And hunting with bow and arrow is never easy. When little cover is available, and hunters are exposed, the playing field is more than leveled. It's in favor of the deer," he said.

On private land, a little over a quarter mile north of Beavertail State Park, Rembijas tagged three deer during the regular hunting season. However, he said that hunting with a muzzleloader or shotgun in a tree stand is much different from hunting with a bow and arrow in an exposed area. "The deer are there, but they are easily frightened," he said. "When they see hunters or any human activ- ity in an area that is usually void of people, they bolt. The chances of getting a good shot are slim," he added.

Wildlife Committee Chairman Chris Savastano openly opposed the hunt at Beavertail. "The Wildlife Committee voted to recommend to the Town Council that appropriate government land should be allotted for deer hunting. This did not include Beavertail State Park. When we said appropriate, we decided in a committee meeting that appropriate excluded all recreation areas, passive or active," Savastano said. "There is no reason to hunt in an area used for recreational activities," he added.

When the DEM requested Town Council permission for the hunt, the council voted to approve the request because of the increasing island deer population. The number of deer on the island has grown from 200 to 400 in less than seven years according to a 2005- 06 DEM deer harvest report.

Gibson said that the conditions on Block Island are soon going to come to Jamestown if something is not done to cull the herd. "We age deer according to the wear on their teeth. They are foraging on grass growing in sand on Block Island. This accelerates the aging process. Eight-year-old deer have teeth ground down to the gums on Block Island," Gibson said. "This makes them appear to be 10 to 12 years old. They will die of malnutrition because they can't chew when their teeth are below the gums," she added.

She noted the increase of vehicular deer kills in just one year. "Last year, 18 were killed by vehicles. This year that number has risen to 26," she said.

Of the 52 deer harvested by hunters, 47 were taken on private property, Rembijas said. "More people must allow hunting on private land if we want to effectively thin the herd. And we better do something before it is too late," he added.

"We have a tick problem as well as property and ornamental foliage destruction. We're already finding deer that are under weight due to lack of food," Gibson said. "The harvest was disappointing this year. It was exactly the same as it was last year," Gibson noted. Hunters harvested 57 deer. The only thing that increased was the vehicular kills, and that's not how we want to cull the herd. Next year only one other number is likely to increase, and that's the deer population," she said.

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